About Interventional Cardiology
Types of Interventional Procedures:
Cardiac catheterization, sometimes called cardiac cath, often is used to determine the severity and extent of cardiovascular problems. In this procedure, the cardiologist makes a small incision in the arm or groin and threads a catheter into a blood vessel.The catheter is then guided through the blood vessel to the heart.
Using cardiac catheterization, physicians can:
- analyze the location and size of plaque deposits,
- assess the strength of the heart muscle and valves,
- collect blood samples,
- take blood pressure readings, and
- inject dyes that are visible on x-rays into arteries to see how well blood is flowing.
Angioplasty/Percutaneous Coronary Intervention
Coronary angioplasty, also called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), is used to open arteries that have been narrowed by atherosclerosis. In this procedure, a catheter is entered into a blood vessel through an incision (usually in the leg or wrist) and is threaded to the heart. This catheter has a collapsed balloon at its tip. When the balloon reaches the targeted area (e.g., blockage), it is inflated to push plaque to the artery walls and widen the artery to improve blood flow. In some cases, the balloon must be inflated and deflated more than one time during the procedure.
The word "embolic" comes from the word "embolus," which refers to an abnormal particle flowing with the blood. During interventional cardiology procedures, plaque fragments can become loose, travel through the bloodstream, and increase the risk for injury or stroke. Embolic protection devices, often called "filters," can be used to trap these particles.