Interventional cardiologists perform angioplasty, which opens narrowed arteries. They use a long, thin tube called a catheter that has a small balloon on its tip. They inflate the balloon at the blockage site in the artery to flatten or compress the plaque against the artery wall. Angioplasty is also called percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA).
Although this topic deals with the coronary arteries in the heart, balloon angioplasty can also be used to open narrowed vessels in many other parts of your body. For example, doctors can perform carotid angioplasty to open narrowed carotid arteries, which are the arteries that supply blood to the brain. A stroke most often occurs when the carotid arteries become blocked and the brain does not get enough oxygen. Angioplasty can also be performed in the aorta (the main artery that comes from your heart), the iliac artery (in your hip), the femoral artery (in your thigh), the popliteal artery (behind your knee), and the tibial and peroneal arteries (in your lower leg).