The introduction of drug-eluting stents, better equipment, stronger antiplatelet drugs, and higher levels of operator experience has led to markedly improved patency rates for complex percutaneous coronary interventions (PCIs). The evolving techniques of contemporary PCI have been unable to completely eliminate complications. However, rigorous preventive measures pre-empt the appearance of complications. During traversal of severely diseased coronary arteries and manipulating equipment, particularly devices with detachable components, the opportunity for loss or embolisation of material in the coronary circulation presents itself. Device embolisation is associated with periprocedural myocardial infarction and emergent referral to surgery, particularly if the device is not retrieved. The coronary no-reflow phenomenon is a feared complication of PCI. It is associated with a worse prognosis and has been shown to be an independent predictor of death, myocardial infarction and impaired left ventricular function. Air embolism can be prevented by flushing of catheters during equipment exchanges.
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