Cardiac catheterization is an invasive procedure using a long, flexible tube that is inserted into an artery and gently directed toward the heart. This enables your doctor to look for blockages and determine if the blockages are dangerous. Sometimes catheterization is used to diagnose and treat serious blockages in blood vessels outside the heart. Certain interventional procedures may be performed during catheterization, including:
- Intracoronary stent
If your cardiologist suspects that an intervention will be needed, he or she will discuss that possibility with you before your exam so that the intervention can be performed without an additional catheterization at a later time.
If your coronary artery disease has already been diagnosed using one or more of the imaging studies available or via a diagnostic catheterization, your doctor may recommend you undergo what is called an interventional catheterization. During an interventional catheterization, your doctor may choose to use one of the following methods to actually treat blockages:
- Angioplasty: a tiny balloon inserted into a narrowed artery can widen the opening and restore blood flow.
- Intracoronary stent: a tiny metal coil that can be inserted into a coronary artery. The stent provides reinforcement to a weakened area in the artery to prevent it from closing. Some stents are embedded with medication that is slowly released to prevent a blockage from re-forming later.
- Atherectomy: a small cutting device that is inserted through a catheter to gently shave away deposits or plaque from the walls of the blocked artery to restore blood flow.
Electrophysiology – Treatments for Irregular Heart Rhythm
A pacemaker is a small device that helps the heart keep its rhythm. In this minimally invasive surgery, an incision is made near the collarbone, and a pocket is created from the tissue overlaying the muscle. The pacemaker is placed into the pocket, and tiny wires are inserted through a vein to the heart. The pacemaker emits a tiny electrical impulse that causes the heart to beat at the rate needed for your activity at that moment.
Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD)
If you are diagnosed with a life-threatening arrhythmia, your doctor may recommend an EP procedure to implant an ICD. The device is similar to a large pacemaker, yet it can deliver stronger electrical stimulation to correct dangerous defibrillation. It works by shocking the heart when necessary to restore normal rhythm.
Small, localized areas of the heart sometimes pulse out of rhythm with the rest of the heart. If an area of irregular heartbeat is located during an EP procedure, it can often be corrected by EP ablation. A special wire carrying radiofrequency energy is used to heat and destroy the specific cells causing the irregularity.View Educational Animations