Skip Navigation
Home  Home | Contact us | How to find us | News | Accessibility
A member of Cambridge University Health Partners -


Purpose of the procedure

Primary Percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI), is also known as coronary angioplasty or simply angioplasty, it is a procedure used to treat the narrowed coronary arteries of the heart and angina in patients.  Therefore it is sometimes used as an emergency treatment for patients who have had a heart attack.
PCI is usually performed by an interventional cardiologist.

Effect on patients

As with any medical procedure there are risks involved.  Your consultant will talk to you about the risks and benefits of this procedure and how these correlate to your own medical condition and health.   Papworth Hospital is one of the UK’s leading centres in coronary angiography, angioplasty and stenting procedures, undertaking high volumes with a lower complication rate than other peer group hospitals. 
For some patients coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) rather than coronary angioplasty may be advised.  Your consultant will advise you on the best treatment for your condition and answer your questions. 

What happens during the procedure

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), or coronary angioplasty is a procedure to unblock a coronary artery. A catheter (a fine, flexible, hollow tube) with a small balloon at the end is inserted through an artery in the groin or arm. The balloon is directed to the blockage using X-ray guidance.  Next, the balloon is inflated so that it pushes the fatty tissue in the narrow artery out of the way in order to improve the blood supply in the heart.  A stent is inside the catheter, this is a small tube of stainless steel mesh which expands as the balloon is inflated and allows the narrowed blood vessel to be enlarged and held in place.  The balloon is then deflated and removed, leaving the stent in place.  This is often called coronary stenting.

What to expect afterwards

It is common for a patient to experience some bruising or swelling where the catheter was inserted.  Recovery time is often quick with some people going home on the same day or next day following the procedure.  However, if you have had an emergency coronary angioplasty for a heart attack, you may need to stay in hospital for a longer period.


Papworth Hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation team works with patients to offer support, to answer any questions you might have following your operation and to advise you on how to continue to stay well and keep your heart healthy.
For detailed information on the Cardiac Rehabilitation team and the two services: the ‘In-house’ and the ‘Road to Recovery’ outreach service, please view the pages on this website

Patient guides for download

Cardiac rehabilitation
Cardiac surgery


Latest News

Social Media