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Interventional Cardiology

Minimally Invasive Procedures for Heart Disease

At Carondelet, we understand that when possible, you’d prefer to avoid surgery for your heart condition. The highly trained doctors at Carondelet & Vascular Institute can help. Interventional cardiology is the branch of cardiology that treats heart disease by catheterization (using a small, flexible tube to reach the heart) rather than surgery.

How Does Interventional Cardiology Work?

One of our expert cardiologists makes a small incision to insert a thin hollow tube or catheter into your artery to make heart repairs. This type of approach can be used to clear blocked arteries, correct congenital heart abnormalities and repair heart valves.

In most cases, you won’t even require general anesthesia, and you can enjoy a shorter hospital stay and a quicker recovery than with surgery. And you can rest assured that our doctors are highly trained and skilled in every aspect of interventional cardiology, including the following common procedures.

Transradial Approach

Traditionally, cardiologists accessed a femoral artery in the groin. A newer procedure is called transradial cardiac catheterization, which uses the radial artery, the main artery in your forearm, to access the heart.

All of our interventional cardiologists use the transradial approach when possible. This approach is equally successful and has a lower risk of complications. In addition, you can sit up right away and walk shortly after the procedure. Generally, it’s a same-day procedure that doesn’t require an overnight stay.

Angioplasty

An angioplasty is a nonsurgical procedure used to treat narrowed (stenotic) coronary arteries, which is a common cause of coronary heart disease. These narrowed segments are caused by the buildup of cholesterol-laden plaques that harden and narrow your arteries.

Using a guide-wire, a special catheter is inserted into the coronary artery past the blockage. The catheter contains a tiny balloon that’s inflated when the catheter is in place. The inflation of the balloon compresses the fatty tissue in the artery and creates a larger opening inside the artery for improved blood flow.

This procedure is also called a percutaneous coronary intervention. (Percutaneous pertains to any medical procedure where access to inner organs or other tissue is done via needle puncture of the skin.)

Stenting

Angioplasty is often combined with the permanent placement of a small wire mesh tube called a stent to help prop the artery open and decrease its chance of narrowing again. Some stents are coated with medication to help keep your artery open (drug-eluting stents), while others are not (bare-metal stents).

Angioplasty can improve symptoms of blocked arteries, such as chest pain and shortness of breath. Angioplasty can also be used during a heart attack to quickly open a blocked artery and reduce the amount of damage to your heart.

Diagnostic Procedures

Interventional cardiologists have advanced training and access to advanced procedures, which allow them to develop accurate diagnoses for our patients. Your cardiologist may use one of the following diagnostic techniques:

  • Fractional flow reserve to determine if oxygen to the heart is being impeded
  • Intravascular ultrasound, which uses an ultrasound probe attached to the end of a catheter
  • Optic coherence tomography, which uses light to create images of the coronary arteries

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