Brachytherapy is a procedure that uses radiation to keep blocked heart arteries open, usually combined with angioplasty and stent placement. For some patients, artery blockage recurs after a stent has been placed to widen the artery. Used during an angioplasty, brachytherapy treats the area with radiation to help inhibit cell growth, which prevents scar formation that can create a blockage in the stent. Brachytherapy happens in three steps:
- A catheter containing a small dose of radiation is guided to the narrowed heart artery.
- The catheter delivers the dose of radiation.
- The catheter is withdrawn.
This radiation treatment generally adds only a few more minutes to the normal time for an angioplasty procedure.