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Interventional Cardiology

The Heart & Vascular Center

cath lab There are a number of interventional cardiovascular procedures that your doctor may choose to diagnose and/or treat your condition. Interventional cardiology procedures are also referred to as minimally invasive because they do not involve the extensive surgery of open-heart procedures like coronary artery bypass or valve replacement. A wide array of interventional treatments are available to patients of The Heart & Vascular Center for conditions that block the flow of blood through the arteries in the heart and other vessels in the body.

We have installed the latest, state-of-the-art technology and digital imaging equipment in our catheterization labs. Using the high quality images produced by this technology, physicians can see clearly inside the body to diagnose cardiovascular conditions and decide how best to treat them. Physicians and staff are committed to reducing the radiation dose patients experience in nuclear cardiology procedures as much as possible. Intravenous Ultrasound is an example of technology that can be used to improve accuracy of what the physician sees without increasing radiation dosage.

Diagnostic Catheterization

If your symptoms and diagnostic test results indicate the possibility of coronary artery disease, you may be scheduled for a diagnostic catheterization. Your cardiologist uses a tiny, hollow tube called a catheter to help diagnose problems in the coronary arteries. After a sedative, the doctor puts a catheter into an artery in your arm, groin or wrist. The latter is called a radial approach, and a growing number of physicians are choosing this approach. For eligible patients, it means a decreased chance of complications and a shorter and more comfortable recovery.

During your heart catheterization, your cardiologist watches a high definition video screen and injects a dye through the catheter into the arteries. The doctor watches how well the dye flows through the arteries and can see any blockages. Depending on the size, type and location, your doctor may choose to medication or a minimally invasive, interventional procedure as treatment.

Primary Coronary Intervention

This procedure is sometimes performed immediately following a heart catheterization. The doctor inserts a small balloon-tipped catheter into the area of the artery that is blocked. He or she then inflates the balloon to press plaque against the artery walls. Moving the plaque out of the way allows the blood to flow freely through the artery again. This procedure is also referred to as a balloon angioplasty.

Arteries that are reopened may need help to stay open, and your doctor may choose to place a stent inside the artery wall. A stent is a mesh-like device made of surgical stainless steel. Depending on your individual case, your cardiologist may choose a drug-coated stent or a stent that is not drug-coated. As in a heart cath, the doctor inserts the catheter into the artery. When he or she finds the blockage, the balloon is inflated. The inflated balloon expands the stent to prop open the inside of the artery, allowing blood to flow freely to the heart muscle. The stent is permanent, acting as a scaffold to hold the artery open.

Peripheral Arterial/Vascular Disease

cath lab Cardiologists perform both diagnostic procedures and interventions for patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Sometimes called peripheral vascular disease (PVD), patients experience blockages of blood vessels away from the heart. Patients with blockages in the blood vessels of the legs experience significant pain and risk poor wound healing and eventual limb loss if blockages are not removed. Left untreated, PAD also increases the risk for heart attack and stroke. Within the catheterization labs at North Florida Regional, cardiologists perform diagnostic and peripheral interventions using various state-of-the-art devices and technologies.

Closing Holes in the Heart

Most holes in the heart that need treatment are repaired in infancy or early childhood. Sometimes, adults are treated for holes in the heart when problems develop. A patent foramen ovale (PFO) is an opening in the top portion of the heart. Cardiologists close a PFO using different devices, depending on the size and location of the opening. Using similar devices, cardiologists can also close the coronary opening known as atrial septal defect (ASD). During the procedure, the doctor inserts a catheter into a vein and threads it to the opening in the heart. The catheter has a tiny umbrella-like device folded up inside it. The device is pushed out of the catheter and positioned so that it plugs the hole, and the catheter is withdrawn from the body. Within 6 months, normal tissue grows in and over the device.

Interventional Cardiology Resources

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For cardiovascular information or referral to a cardiovascular specialist, please call Consult-A-Nurse® at (800) 611-6913.