The practice of interventional cardiology is a sub-specialty of the general practice of cardiology that deals specifically with treating diseases of the heart and cardiovascular system through minimally invasive procedures employing catheters, stents and intravascular balloons.
Procedures of interventional cardiology commonly feature the placement of a catheter into the femoral artery at a site in the patient’s groin, from which the interventional cardiologist can then obtain access to the clogged arteries and blood vessels of the heart. In some cases the radial artery (accessed via the wrist or forearm) is used instead. An advantage of using the radial artery is that many patients are able to sit up and walk immediately after completion of the procedure. The cardiologist is usually guided in performing particular procedures by X-rays, for which contrast dye has been introduced to the patient’s cardiovascular system to highlight areas of blockage and disease.
Among the procedures encompassed by interventional cardiology are:
Also called percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA), angioplasty is an intervention for the treatment of coronary artery disease.
Valvuloplasty is the dilation of narrowed cardiac valves (usually mitral, aortic, or pulmonary).
Correction of congenital heart defects
Catheterization can be employed to correct atrial septal and ventricular septal defects, closure of a patient’s ductus arteriosus, and angioplasty of the great vessels.
Percutaneous valve replacement
An alternative to open heart surgery, percutaneous valve replacement is the replacement of a heart valve using percutaneous methods.
Coronary thrombectomy involves the removal of a thrombus (blood clot) from the coronary arteries.
A technique performed by clinical electrophysiologists, cardiac ablation is used in the treatment of arrhythmias.
Heart surgery is performed by a specialist in cardiothoracic surgery. Some interventional cardiology procedures are performed only when the hospital or clinic has a cardiothoracic surgeon present, in case complications that may arise during procedures of interventional cardiology require a patient to have emergency heart surgery.