Although procedural complications of PCI have declined in recent years, substantial concerns remain. The risk of developing a complication whether during the procedure or post-operative is variable, yet in modern medical practice, the probable risks of PCI may be reliably anticipated. Although PCI is a minimally invasive procedure, patients should be aware of its risks and complications. Complications of PCI include:
- Bleeding whether external at the site of incision or internal due to rupture of a blood vessel. Arterial fragility may predispose its injury during the procedure that will lead to pseudoaneurysm or a hematoma (pooling of the blood outside the blood vessel).
- Nephropathy (kidney injury) caused by contrast dye is a considerable complication, particularly for patients with compromised renal function. Kidneys are responsible for the excretion of contrast dyes, so it would be an overload for diseased kidneys to perform this task. Tests evaluating how healthy the kidney is are usually conducted before the procedure, yet urgent cases may not have the time for proper pre-operative assessment.
- An infection has become a less commonly reported complication of the catheter-based procedure due to advanced sanitization measures applied at most catheterization suites.
- Thrombosis is found to be more common in old patients and patients with a coagulopathic disorder. Patients are asked to take blood thinners after the procedure to reduce the risk of thrombosis and distal embolism. Embolism is a circulating thrombus that will eventually get stuck in a peripheral blood vessel and occlude its blood flow.
- Restenosis at the site of stent implantation is considered a failure or a complication of the procedure. In the case of peripheral stenting, it may be caused by an external compression on the blood vessel.
- Arrhythmia and stroke are probable life-threatening complications for almost all cardiac procedures.