When your chest pain and shortness of breath are signs of coronary artery disease, chances are you need percutaneous coronary intervention. Board-certified cardiologist Ranjit Rajpal, MD, FACP, FACC, at Central Valley Cardiovascular Center, specializes in diagnosing and treating coronary artery disease using cutting-edge catheter technology. If you have questions about your symptoms or percutaneous coronary intervention, call the office in Madera, California, or schedule an appointment online today.

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What is percutaneous coronary intervention?

Percutaneous coronary intervention refers to several procedures to clear a clogged coronary artery. Dr. Rajpal of Central Valley Cardiovascular Center performs percutaneous coronary interventions by making a very tiny cut and inserting a catheter into a blood vessel.

Using real-time imaging, he guides the catheter to the targeted coronary artery. Then he uses the catheter to deploy one of several specialized tools to remove the plaque.

When might I need percutaneous coronary intervention?

Dr. Rajpal recommends percutaneous coronary interventions to treat coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD develops when cholesterol plaque accumulates on the wall of a coronary artery.

Without treatment, the plaque enlarges and hardens, cutting off the oxygen-rich blood supply to your heart. When the blood flow is significantly blocked or the plaque ruptures, you suffer a heart attack.

Percutaneous coronary intervention restores circulation through the artery, eases symptoms like angina (chest pain), and prevents future heart attacks.

What is a diagnostic cardiac catheterization?

Before performing percutaneous coronary intervention, Dr. Rajpal does a diagnostic cardiac catheterization to verify your diagnosis and determine the best treatment.

During a diagnostic procedure, Dr. Rajpal guides a catheter into your heart. Once the catheter is in place, he can:

  • Take blood samples
  • Determine the blood pressure in each heart chamber
  • Inject dye, so the structures show up on X-rays
  • Create images using intravascular ultrasound
  • Measure fractional flow reserve

The fractional flow reserve shows the difference between the maximum blood flow in the coronary artery and the amount of blood that should flow through a healthy artery.

What type of percutaneous coronary intervention might I need?

The procedures most often performed by Dr. Rajpal include:

Angioplasty and stenting

Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, or more simply angioplasty, uses a catheter with a balloon and stent.

After the catheter reaches the fatty plaque in your coronary artery, Dr. Rajpal inflates the balloon, pushing the plaque against the artery wall. Then he implants a mesh stent into the artery.

Dr. Rajpal removes the balloon and catheter, but the stent stays in place, holding the artery wall open and preventing more plaque from developing.


If the plaque is too hard to push away with a balloon, Dr. Rajpal uses instruments to grind or shave away the plaque.

Laser angioplasty

In this procedure, the catheter has a fiber optic tip that sends out laser energy to vaporize the plaque.

Dr. Rajpal performs cardiac catheterization and percutaneous coronary intervention in the cardiac catheterization labs at St. Agnes Medical Center and Community Regional Medical Center. Both hospitals are in Fresno, California.

To schedule an appointment, call Central Valley Cardiovascular Center, or use the online booking feature today.