How Do You Treat Chronic Total Occlusion?

CTO surgery has the goal of restoring healthy blood flow to your heart. At San Diego Cardiac Center, we are focused on delivering the least invasive treatment to help you live a healthier, longer life. The treatment plan will be based on the results of your angiogram. Traditionally, these blockages were treated with open-heart surgery, but newer, less invasive approaches have been developed, with excellent outcomes and a faster recovery time.

Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCO)

This procedure can reduce or resolve a blockage. A catheter, or narrow, long flexible tube, is inserted into your vein to reach the blocked area and place a stent to open the blood vessels. The incision point is at the groin or wrist. A small balloon on the end of the catheter is inflated to displace the blockage, and a stent, which is a small mesh tube, is then placed to hold the artery open.


An angioplasty is a procedure in which a balloon on the end of a catheter is inflated to compress the plaque in the artery to widen it. This procedure is typically followed by the placement of a stent to hold the artery open.

What to Expect During Treatment?

You may be anxious about your angioplasty or PCO procedure. At San Diego Cardiac Center, we do all we can to help you feel confident about undergoing treatment and will ensure you understand all about the procedure and the recovery, as well as any risks.

The improvements in your quality of life make this procedure extremely valuable, as when blood flow to your heart is restored, you will feel better and avoid many of the risks associated with blocked arteries.

This procedure does not require general anesthesia, but instead only intravenous sedation and topical anesthesia at the access point. You will be administered blood-thinning medication during the treatment. Your blood pressure, oxygen levels, and heart rate will be closely monitored throughout your procedure. The access point for the procedure may be your leg, arm, or wrist. It will be prepared with an antiseptic solution. A very small incision is then placed, and a thin guidewire inserted into the blood vessel, guided by advanced X-ray imaging.

The catheter is then threaded to your artery. Once the catheter is placed, contrast dye is injected so the inside of your blood vessels can be viewed clearly. A small balloon on the end of the catheter is inflated into the blocked area, pressing the plaque against the artery wall to open up the vessel. A stent may or may not be placed based on your condition. If you have more than one blockage, the procedure is repeated until all blockages are treated.

Recovery Time

You will stay in the hospital overnight and should be able to return to work or other activities within a week. You need to avoid lifting heavy objects or any other vigorous physical exertion in the early stage of healing. Drink plenty of water to help your body shed the contrast dye.

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