Interventional cardiology has changed the landscape when it comes to the fields of coronary and valvular heart disease treatment. It is a highly specialized field of medicine dedicated to unclogging blocked arteries by using tools and techniques that are minimally invasive.
The goal of interventional cardiology is to restore the flow of blood to tissues and organs throughout the body through non-surgical procedures. Interventional cardiologists treat a wide range of conditions including heart attacks, strokes, and blockages to the kidneys and legs without resorting to open surgery. Weakened heart valves or narrowed arteries — often caused by peripheral vascular disease, heart valve disease or coronary heart disease — are treated through interventional cardiology.
Interventional Cardiology Procedure
Interventional cardiologists are board-certified cardiologists who utilize catheter-based treatment for heart diseases. These procedures involve inserting thin catheters, or flexible tubes, through small punctures in the skin which are then threaded through blood vessels to clear blockages in the artery.
Sometimes this requires a particular type of catheter, called a balloon angioplasty catheter, which expands to push the blockage against the walls of the artery in order to open the artery up for blood flow traffic. Other times catheters are used to arrange mesh or metal tubes or stents to clear arteries and for the purpose of diagnostics.
Types of Interventional Cardiology Procedures
These are a few of the minimally invasive procedures interventional cardiologists use:
- Cardiac catheterization – This procedure is used to diagnose and treat certain heart conditions or to determine if heart surgery is needed. A special kind of dye is often inserted in the catheter and introduced to the bloodstream for diagnostic tests.
- Balloon angioplasty and valvuloplasty – In this procedure, the interventional cardiologist threads a ballooned catheter through an artery and into the heart. Once there, the balloon is inflated and deflated multiple times. The purpose is to break apart fused valve leaflets so they open more efficiently.
- Coronary carotid and peripheral stenting – This procedure involves using stents, which are small stainless steel tubes, to hold the artery open.
- ASD and PFO closures – Most of these treatments involve a cardiac catheterization to place a closure device. This procedure is used to prevent strokes and heart attacks ((myocardial infarction).
- Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement – For patients who aren’t good candidates for aortic valve surgery, this is an effective alternative for implanting a stenotic aortic valve. The result is improved heart function and quality of life.
Interventional cardiology offers many patient benefits, including decreased risk of infection and shorter and less painful patient recovery when compared to invasive open surgery.