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 coronary 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
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.