What is angioplasty?
Angioplasty is a method of unblocking blood vessels. A chronically obstructed blood vessel, particularly from atherosclerosis, can cause heart attack, stroke, or major complications in many other vital organs.
A catheter (tube) with a deflated balloon attached at the end is inserted into a major blood vessel, usually either in the groin or the arm, and carefully guided to the obstructed area. The balloon is then inflated, thereby stretching the blood vessel at that spot. A stent (support) may also be inserted if necessary to prevent recollapse. Once the balloon is deflated, it and the catheter are removed, and normal blood flow is restored.
What countries are the most popular destinations for this procedure?
Mexico, India, Israel, Poland, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, and many more.
What is the range of prices?
In the U.S., the procedure typically costs almost $30,000, and may cost more than $50,000. The prices in the U.K. and Australia are not much lower.
$13,000 in Costa Rica,
$11,000 in Mexico,
$7,000 to $8,000 in Israel and Malaysia,
$4,000 to $6,000 in Thailand, Poland, Turkey, and India.
What are the common complications if the procedure is performed abroad?
Even though angioplasty, being less invasive than other options, is safer than many of its alternatives, serious and even life-threatening complications can occur. This is especially true when combined with the stress of international travel while ill or after surgery. Complications are also more likely if the procedure is performed in a facility that lacks international accreditation or fails to meet accepted standards of hygiene, modernity, or professionalism.
First of all, while unblocking the target area, the plaque that caused the blockage can be shaken loose and travel through the bloodstream causing a potentially fatal embolism somewhere else.
Another risk is that since the blood vessel being treated is potentially old and stiff, expansion may cause it to rupture.
Other potential risks include bleeding, infection, allergic reactions, kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke.
A widely reported news story from 2010 tells the story of a prominent Maryland cardiologist who was accused of performing angioplasties and inserting stents into hundreds of patients who did not need them. It was alleged that he was motivated by kickbacks he received from the manufacturer for every procedure he performed. His hospital settled a lawsuit with the victims for tens of millions of dollars.