What is Coronary Angiography?
Coronary angiography, also called a heart catheterization, uses an x-ray to look at the heart, examining the vessels and valves of the heart. The patient will lie on a special exam table and be provided sedation during the procedure. A small flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel in the upper thigh (groin area) or arm. The tip of the tube is positioned in the heart at the beginning of the arteries supplying the heart and a special fluid (called contast or dye) is injected. This fluid is visible by x-ray and the pictures that are obtained are called angiograms. An angiogram is necessary before deciding whether coronary disease needs more treatment and the procedure takes less than two hours.
Minimally Invasive Treatments
Balloon Angioplasty - PTCA
Angioplasty, sometimes called a PTCA, is a procedure that helps to widen arrowed or obstructed arteries within the heart. A small balloon is passed into the narrowed vessel and then inflated to push plaque against the artery wall. This opens up the blood vessel and improves blood flow.
Coronary Stent: Bare Metal Stents
A bare metal sent (BMS) is a coronary stent or meshed tube placed into a blocked coronary artery. It does not have a drug coating and is often used for patients who may have upcoming procedures or operations that limit the time they can be on blood thinners.
Coronary Stent: Drug-Eluting Stents
A drug-eluting (DES) is a corony stent or meshed tube placed into a blocked coronary artery that slowly releases a drug. This helps to prevent clots from forming within the treated blockage. Typically blood thinners have to be taken for up to a year or even longer, depending on what your physician recommends.
This procedure is done in conjunction with an angiogram with a miniature ultrasound catheter on the tip of a coronary catheter, which is placed in the coronary artery blockage. Using high-frequency sound waves, it produces images of the interior walls of the arteries. This allows the physician to see the layers of the artery wall itself. Using this in conjunction with an angiogram can provide the physician with valuable information and determine the best course of treatment.
Temporary Left-Ventricular Assist Device (Impella)
The Impella catheter is a temporary assist device that is placed in the main pumping chamber of the heart, the left ventricle. This technology helps the heart to pump more efficiently during difficult procedures. Sometimes it can be used in emergency situations, such as with a heart attack, or during a planned procedure for cardiac support.
PFO (Patent Foramen Ovale) Closure
PFO closures are used to close a heart wall defect within the heart wall. A PFO closure device is moved through the catheter into the heart and to the location of the heart wall defect. The PFO closure device is placed so that it straddles each side of the hole. This will stop the abnormal flow of blood between the two atrial chambers of the heart. This procedure avoids surgery and in most cases, can be done is less than an hour.