Cardiac catheterization is an invasive non-surgical procedure performed to evaluate coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, congestive heart failure, and/or certain congenital heart conditions.
The procedure begins with a small hollow tube, known as catheter, which is advanced from a blood vessel in the groin or arm into the heart. The use of fluoroscopy (X-ray) assists the physician in locating any blockages in the coronary arteries. A catheter is also placed to measure the pressures and flow of blood within various chambers of the heart and the lungs.
Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty (PTCA) and Stent Placement
Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) is performed if a coronary artery, a blood vessel that supplies the heart muscle blood, is significantly blocked or narrowed. A balloon catheter is advanced into the narrowed region and then inflated to widen the blocked areas where blood flow to the heart muscle has been slowed or interrupted. After widening the vessel, the balloon is then deflated and removed allowing for improved blood flow. Your physician may also decide to insert a device called a stent into the opened artery.
A stent is a tiny, expandable metal coil that acts like a tunnel support. It is inserted into the newly-opened area of the artery to help keep the artery from recoiling, narrowing or closing again. It will be necessary to take certain types of blood thinners after the insertion of the stent(s).
An arthrectomy (rotoblator) removes hard plaque with the use of a “burr” which spins at a very high speed like a dentist’s drill to break up the hard plaque.
A laser procedure is similar to a balloon angioplasty but instead the device has a laser at the tip of the catheter. The lasers beam of light vaporizes the calcified plaque.