Coronary Chronic Total Occlusion Therapy

Coronary chronic total occlusion therapy refers to one of several procedures that can be used to treat coronary arteries that are completely blocked.

Coronary arteries refers to blood vessels (arteries) that carry blood to the muscle of the heart. Normally, blood flows freely through the blood arteries. Atherosclerosis is a disease that causes fatty material called plaque to build up inside the walls of arteries. This plaque can narrow arteries and reduce blood flow. If plaque builds up to the point where it completely blocks an artery for 3 or more months this is called chronic total occlusion or CTO.

There are a few procedures that can be used to treat CTOs such as angioplasty, atherectomy, and bypass grafts. Many common procedures, such as angioplasty, use a guidewire to deliver special catheters to the site of the CTO. To begin an angioplasty procedure, a thin guide wire is inserted into a small incision in the arm or upper thigh. This process is usually visualized using x-rays and a special dye that helps reveal the arteries (called angiography). This guide wire is carefully guided through the blood vessels and through the blockage in the artery. A balloon on the tip of the catheter is then inflated to push the walls of the artery open and restore blood flow. The catheter and guide wire are then removed.

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