MEHAU KULYK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MEHAU KULYK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Cardiac angioplasty. Coloured angiogram (X-ray) of an inflated balloon catheter during the technique of cardiac angioplasty. The tube-like catheter is seen looping around inside blood vessels and inside the heart; the blood vessels and heart are not seen on X-ray. Vertebrae of the spine and ribs are in the background. The catheter has expanded into a balloon (centre left) at a site where the blood vessel or a heart valve is narrowed and must be widened. Angioplasty is the use of a balloon catheter to inflate an obstructed artery or heart valve, and so restore blood flow. Atherosclerosis is a common disease obstructing blood flow where fatty plaques develop on inner walls of arteries.
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