ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Heart after an angioplasty. Angiography (blood vessel X-ray) footage showing a radio-opaque contrast medium (dark) being injected by a catheter (right) through the left subclavian vein and towards the heart (bottom left) following an angioplasty. An artery in the heart had been affected by stenosis (narrowing) and the angioplasty operation had treated this by widening it. Such narrowing typically occurs due to a build-up of atheroma, a cholesterol-rich plaque, on the inside wall of an artery or vein. This is common in patients with high blood pressure. During the procedure, a balloon is introduced into the narrowed area and then inflated, which forces open the blood vessel, permitting normal blood flow. This post-angioplasty test is done to ensure the blood vessel is no longer blocked. The radio-opaque contrast medium allows blood vessels to be seen on an X-ray.
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