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What is interventional cardiology?

Interventional cardiology refers to specialized procedures in which catheters are guided by X-ray to either your coronary arteries (to help open blockages) or your heart (to make repairs). During interventional catheterization, small tools are inserted through the catheters to perform a procedure. These minimally invasive procedures offer the advantages of quicker recovery times, less bleeding, less trauma on the body and smaller incisions.

Why choose us?

Our hospitals have some of the highest success rates and outcomes for patients undergoing interventional procedures — including emergency and non-emergency angioplasty, a stent procedure used to clear blocked arteries.

Our cardiovascular specialists are known for their ability to tackle difficult cases. In fact, many patients come to us when other centers have been unsuccessful in their attempts to treat complicated coronary artery blockages.

In our state-of-the-art catheterization labs, highly specialized teams of diagnostic and interventional cardiologists treat a wide variety of conditions, including:

Our approach

During an interventional procedure, one of our cardiologists inserts a catheter into the veins and/or arteries through the leg or arm, where they are guided to the right and/or left sides of the heart. Once the catheters are positioned in the heart chamber(s) or blood vessel(s), the pressure of the blood in the chambers can be measured, blood samples taken, and dye injected to allow X-ray visualization (a procedure known as angiography).

A diagnostic catheterization can become an interventional catheterization when the cardiologist determines that the problem can be effectively treated at the same time. The procedure does not require anesthesia and causes little or no pain, though there may be soreness in the blood vessel where the catheter was inserted. Catheterization rarely causes serious complications.

Catheterization treatments may include:

  • Radial artery catheterization — Interventional catheterization can be performed using a traditional insertion by entering an artery in the groin. However, we perform most angioplasty procedures through an artery in the wrist. This technique, referred to as a radial artery catheterization, decreases related complications and allows for a quicker recovery.
  • Ultrasound — This shows blockages in the coronary arteries by using sound waves to create detailed pictures.
  • Coronary angiography — This is a diagnostic procedure used to see inside the arteries of the heart. The doctor inserts a catheter into a blood vessel in the wrist or groin, then guides it through your blood vessels into your coronary arteries. A special dye is then injected through the catheter to allow the doctor to see any blockages. If blockage is detected, the doctor may perform coronary angioplasty (also known as balloon angioplasty).
  • Coronary/balloon angioplasty — This procedure uses a catheter with a small balloon on its tip that is designed to open narrowed arteries caused by plaque build-up. When the interventional cardiologist uses balloon angioplasty to inflate the balloon at the blockage site in the artery, the balloon flattens and compresses the plaque against the artery wall.
  • Atherectomy — A device is inserted through a catheter and into the arteries or veins to scrape away accumulated plaque.
  • Bypass surgery — This creates a new pathway for blood to flow by bypassing a blocked area in your vein or artery.
  • Hybrid open/endovascular procedures — This combines traditional (open) surgery with minimally invasive surgery, using advanced imaging technology.
  • Coronary artery stent — May be done at the same time as an angioplasty. A stent is a small, metal mesh tube that a surgeon inserts through a catheter to prop open an artery.
  • Valvuloplasty — May be done to open a stenotic (stiff) heart valve. This procedure is used to open a blocked heart valve and can be an alternative to surgery. Heart valves direct the flow of blood through the chambers of the heart and then to the rest of the body. The valvuloplasty procedure uses a balloon to stretch the valve or to break up scars in the valve and restore blood flow.
  • Atrial septal defect (ASD) closure — A procedure used to close large atrial septal defects (a hole in the wall that separates the two chambers of the heart). During this procedure, an atrial septal defect closure device is moved through the catheter to the location of the heart wall defect. Once in the correct location, the device expands its shape to straddle each side of the hole. The catheter is then removed. The atrial septal defect closure device remains in the heart permanently to stop the abnormal flow of blood between the two atria chambers.
  • Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) — Also known as “coronary angioplasty" or "balloon angioplasty," this is a procedure used to open up narrow areas in your coronary arteries, which supply blood directly to your heart muscle.
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