To restore blood flow to Clinton’s coronary artery, the surgeons performed a procedure called angioplasty. Angioplasty is a surgical technique used to mechanically widen or enlarge an occluded blood vessel. In cardiac angioplasties, surgeons use balloons catheters. These catheters have a balloon at the tip. During cardiac angioplasty, this catheter is guided into the body and then into the affected blood vessel until the tip of the catheter reaches the blocked area of the blood vessel. At such time, the tip of the catheter is inflated, causing the lumen or the interior diameter of the blood vessel to expand. As the blood vessel is expanded, any fatty deposits on the interior wall of the vessel are crushed and compressed. Then, the balloon is deflated and removed. As a result of this process, the vessel regains blood flow. Sometimes, the surgeon will also install a metal coil or a stent into the affected blood vessel to prevent future narrowing or blockage.
Clinton was diagnosed with a blockage in one of the bypass grafts, which was created during his quadruple bypass surgery back in 2004. This graft serves as a surrogate blood vessel to reroute blood around a blockage in the coronary artery. Clinton’s surgery involved the ballooning of the graft and the installation of two stents to provide for long-term blood vessel support.