CORONARY artery bypass surgery still generates wide-spread controversy. There are divergent viewpoints among competent cardiologists regarding indications, risks, longterm results, and costs. Similarly, questions still arise concerning morbidity and mortality, risk, identification and importance of perioperative infarction, and long-term fate of the native and bypassed coronary vessels, as well as of the vein graft itself. Futhermore, long-term follow-up studies reaffirm the palliative nature of the procedure for the majority of patients.
Amid this continuing controversy of the role of aortocoronary bypass in the treatment of various coronary artery disease syndromes, a new method for the treatment of myocardial ischemia has been introduced: percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA). The method is particularly attractive because of its simplicity. Introduced by a preformed coronary catheter (similar to the standard catheters used for routine coronary angiography), a balloon-tipped catheter is advanced into the obstructed coronary artery segment, rapidly inflated (under 4 to 6 atm)