Percutaneous Coronary Intervention | Acute Coronary Syndromes | JAMA | JAMA Network
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JAMA Patient Page
February 11, 2004

Percutaneous Coronary Intervention

JAMA. 2004;291(6):778. doi:10.1001/jama.291.6.778

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is a treatment for persons experiencing myocardial ischemia (inadequate blood flow to the heart) or myocardial infarction (heart attack). The goal of PCI is to open up a coronary artery (blood vessel that brings blood and oxygen to the heart muscle) and restore blood flow. Primary PCI is an emergency treatment performed to reduce the amount of heart muscle permanently damaged by a heart attack. Primary PCI reduces the mortality (death) rate from heart attack. The February 11, 2004, issue of JAMA includes an article about the use of PCI to treat heart attacks.

Percutaneous coronary intervention requires the use of the cardiac catheterization suite with special equipment, x-ray capability, and trained personnel. Usually access to the heart and major blood vessels is obtained through the femoral artery in the groin area. The artery is punctured through the skin with a special needle. Under x-ray guidance, a catheter is threaded through the femoral artery up into the aorta (large artery from the heart) and then gently advanced into the affected coronary artery. There, a balloon is used to open the coronary artery (balloon angioplasty) and restore blood flow. Sometimes a stent (a mesh-like metal tube that holds open the artery) is placed at that time to maintain good blood flow through the damaged area.Percutaneous coronary intervention is not the right treatment for everyone. Your individual treatment options should be discussed with your doctor.