Cardiac catheterization uses a very thin, hollow tube, called a catheter, that’s threaded through your blood vessels until it reaches the heart. Once the catheter is in the heart, it’s used to perform a variety of diagnostic procedures.
Using cardiac catheterization studies, your doctor at Consultants in Cardiology & Electrophysiology can measure blood pressure, blood flow, and the level of oxygen in the blood. The test can also help determine if you have disease in the heart muscle, valves, or coronary arteries. Heart catheterization is also used to detect congenital anomalies in adults and children.
During a right-heart catheterization, also called a pulmonary artery catheterization, the catheter is guided through the right side of your heart then into the pulmonary artery, which carries blood from the heart to your lungs.
Blood flow and blood pressure are measured as the catheter travels through the two chambers on the right side of your heart and the pulmonary artery. As a result, your doctor can determine whether measurements are too low or too high in the various areas.
A right-heart catheterization may be recommended if you’ve experienced heart symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fatigue. It can diagnose diverse types of heart disease including pulmonary hypertension, heart failure, heart valve disease, and an enlarged heart.
A left-heart catheterization uses the catheter to examine the left chambers of your heart. Just like a right-heart catheterization, blood flow and blood pressure can be determined. A ventriculography may also be done during a left-heart catheterization to see how well your heart is pumping blood.
Your doctor at Consultants in Cardiology & Electrophysiology may recommend a left-heart catheterization to determine if you have cardiac valve disease, heart defects, cardiac tumors, or other problems with heart function.
When you need answers about potential coronary artery disease, your doctor at Consultants in Cardiology & Electrophysiology has many different advanced techniques for viewing blood vessels. These coronary artery imaging procedures enable an accurate diagnosis of obstructions, aneurysms, clots, and other problems. Some of the imaging options include:
Stents are used to treat clogged or weakened arteries in the body, which relieves chest pain and helps prevent or treat a heart attack. A stent is a small tube that’s inserted into a hollow structure in your body to improve the flow of fluids. Coronary artery stents are usually made from metal mesh that can expand after it’s placed inside the blood vessel, so it keeps the artery open and ensures blood can keep flowing.
The doctors at Consultants in Cardiology & Electrophysiology use several different types of stents, which are carefully chosen to meet each patient’s individual needs. For example, they may choose a bare metal stent or a drug-eluting stent, which gradually releases medications that help keep the artery open, to name just two possible choices.
Stents are used when arteries are blocked or narrowed, or when clogged arteries develop throughout the body, so stents may be used to treat these health conditions:
Coronary artery disease: The coronary arteries are responsible for getting blood to the heart. Coronary artery disease occurs when plaque builds up inside an artery, which narrows the vessel and blocks the flow of blood. Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
Carotid artery disease: This occurs when plaque narrows one or both of the carotid arteries, which provide blood to the brain and are located on each side of the neck.
Peripheral artery disease: This disease occurs when plaque builds up and narrows arteries in the legs.
Renal artery stenosis: In this condition, arteries that supply blood to the kidneys are narrowed or blocked.
The blocked artery is opened and the stent put into place at the same time in a procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention, or angioplasty. This procedure uses a very small tube, or catheter, that has a deflated balloon covered by the stent at the tip of the catheter. Using a small incision, the catheter is threaded through the artery until it reaches the area blocked by plaque.
When the catheter reaches the blockage, the balloon is inflated, which flattens the plaque, widens the artery, and improves blood flow. Inflating the balloon also expands the stent, which is pushed into place in the artery. Then the balloon is deflated and removed, while the stent stays in place, strengthening the artery and preventing future blockage or narrowing.