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Interventional Cardiology

What is Interventional Cardiology?

Interventional cardiology is a branch of cardiology that deals specifically with the catheter based treatment of structural heart diseases. A large number of procedures can be performed on the heart by catheterization. This most commonly involves the insertion of a sheath into the femoral artery (near the groin) and cannulating the heart under x-ray visualization. The radial artery (in the wrist area) may also be used for cannulations. This approach offers several advantages such as:

  • The accessibility of the artery in most patients
  • The easy control of bleeding even in anticoagulated patients
  • The enhancements of comfort because patients are capable of sitting up and walking immediately following the procedure
  • The near absence of clinically significant sequeale in patients with a normal Allen test.

Additionally, interventional cardiology procedure of primary angioplasty is now the gold standard of care for an acute myocardial infarction It involves the extraction of clots from occluded coronary arteries and deployment of stents and balloons through a small hole made in a major artery (which has given it the name “pin-hole” surgery), thereby leaving no scars.

Procedures

Procedures performed by interventional cardiology specialists at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center include:

Balloon angioplasty

A procedure in which a small balloon at the tip of the catheter is inserted near the blocked or narrowed area of the coronary artery. The technical name for balloon angioplasty is percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). When the balloon is inflated, the fatty plaque or blockage is compressed against the artery walls and the diameter of the blood vessel is widened (dilated) to increase blood flow to the heart.

Balloon angioplasty with stenting

In most cases, balloon angioplasty is performed in combination with the stenting procedure. A stent is a small, metal mesh tube that acts as a scaffold to provide support inside the coronary artery. A balloon catheter, placed over a guide wire, is used to insert the stent into the narrowed artery. Once in place, the balloon is inflated and the stent expands to the size of the artery and holds it open. The balloon is deflated and removed, and the stent stays in place permanently. During a period of several weeks, the artery heals around the stent. In this way, restenosis is somewhat diminished.

Angioplasty with stenting is most commonly recommended for patients who have a blockage in one or two coronary arteries. If there are blockages in more than two coronary arteries, coronary artery bypass graft surgery may be recommended.

Coronary thrombectomy

Involves the removal of a thrombus (blood clot) from the coronary arteries.

Drug-eluting stents (DES)

Drug-eluting stents contain a medication that is actively released at the stent implantation site. Drug-eluting stents have a thin surface of medication to reduce the risk of restenosis.