"Angio" means blood vessel and "Plasty" means to make something big. Therefore "angioplasty" means to make a blocked vessel bigger. Another words, to unblock the artery. This is now done with catheter (tube), which is inserted into the artery (see section on angiogram). Once the catheter is in place, a wire the width of a human hair is slowly maneuvered across the blockage (plaque). Once it is through, a balloon is placed over the wire and pushed into the blockage. The balloon is then inflated. This pushes the plaque aside and the artery is made bigger. To prevent the recoil of the muscular artery, a stent (metal mesh) is placed in the area of the plaque to hold the arterial wall in place. After this, the balloon, wire and catheter are all removed. The stent will remain in your artery and becomes part of you.
The 1st picture shows an artery that is completely blocked.
The 2nd picture shows the blood flowing down the artery after the wire is passed across the blockage.
The 3rd picture shows the stent in place.
The final picture shows the presence of the blocked artery after it has been stented.
In simple cases with only 1 blocked artery, the whole procedure may take as little as 20 minutes as in this case.
Sometimes, with multiple arteries blocked or where a single artery has been totally blocked for a long time, the procedure make take several hours.