Interventional Cardiology

In this procedure, a guidewire is threaded through a special catheter into the blocked artery. Using the guidewire, the doctor can then direct one or more tools to the area to break up blockages and remove plaque. One is a high-speed rotating burr that grinds the plaque into very tiny pieces. Another is a small rotating cutter that shaves off pieces of the blockage. Still another is a laser catheter that vaporizes plaque.

An imaging study of the heart arteries, performed under x-ray visualization, that allows your physician to identify arterial narrowing or blockage caused by cholesterol buildup. The results of the catheterization will help your doctor plan the next step in your treatment, including angioplasty, coronary bypass graft surgery, or medical therapy.

Also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), this procedure improves blood flow to your heart by opening arteries that are narrowed or blocked by the plaque. PCI is performed during cardiac catheterization. To open a blocked artery, your doctor will insert a catheter over a guidewire and inflate a balloon at the tip of that catheter. He may place a small mesh tube called a stent in your artery to help keep the it open.

In a process similar to cardiac catheterizations, these dye studies outline other arteries in the body, usually those that supply the blood to the head and neck or the abdomen and legs. Because arteries cannot be seen on ordinary x-rays, doctors inject a contrast material into the artery; this makes the blood flow visible on radiographs and helps identify narrowing or blockages that may be present.

A stent is a small mesh tube used to treat narrow, blocked, or weak arteries. A stent is placed in an artery as part of a procedure called coronary angioplasty  or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) to restore blood flow and support the inner wall of the artery. Doctors also place stents in weak arteries to improve blood flow and help prevent the arteries from bursting.

Types of stents

Most stents are made of metal mesh, but fabric stents, also called stent grafts, can be used in larger arteries. Some stents are coated with medicine that is slowly and continuously released into the artery; these are called drug-eluting stents. The medicine helps prevent the artery from becoming blocked again.

This internal ultrasound, performed in a hospital while you are sedated, allows the doctor to evaluate your heart muscle function, assess the severity of certain valve problems, and detect other potential problems. During the procedure, the doctor carefully places an ultrasound probe in the esophagus. By moving the probe within the esophagus and into the stomach, the doctor can capture images that may disclose congenital heart problems, aortic disease, or blood clots in your heart.

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