Percutaneous Coronary Interventions

Emory Heart & Vascular Center interventional cardiologists have been at the forefront of the development and application of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). As a primary investigational site for new treatment modalities, we continue to make great strides in improving long-term benefits while providing the best possible care for our patients. In 2009, more than 11,500 interventional procedures were performed at all Emory labs, with more than 4,000 performed at the Emory University Hospital and Emory University Hospital Midtown locations alone.

What Is PCI?

PCI, also called percutaneous coronary intervention, is a procedure that uses a catheter (thin, flexible tube) and small balloon threaded through a blood vessel in the groin or arm and guided to heart to open a blocked or narrowed coronary artery. The balloon is rapidly inflated to expand the part of the artery that has narrowed and improve blood flow. In most cases, a stent (thin mesh tube) is then inserted to keep the artery open. In addition to improving blood flow, stenting decreases the chances of the blockage returning the future, and new stenting techniques have reduced recurrence of atherosclerosis significantly.

PCI performed during a heart attack (also called a myocardial infarction, or MI) can help prevent permanent damage to the heart muscle and greatly improve survival odds. The sooner the blocked artery is opened using PCI, the greater the odds of survival and freedom from complications. Emory Healthcare has a sophisticated system for the treatment of heart attacks using PCI, and a comprehensive team of doctors, nurses and technicians are on call at all times to treat these patients as quickly as possible.

PCI is minimally invasive and can sometimes be used as an alternative or additional treatment for coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery.

What Does PCI Treat?

PCI is used in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) to relieve chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart or to minimize damage to the heart muscle during a heart attack (which occurs when blood flow is cut off to an area of the heart).