The following procedures are often used in the evaluation and treatment
of cardiovascular disease. Consult your physician or heart care professional
for more specific information.
Cardiac procedures for abnormal heart rhythms:
Catheter ablation. This procedure uses radio waves or freezing to silence an abnormal area
in the heart's electrical system, which is usually found during an
Permanent pacemaker. A permanent pacemaker is inserted into the patient's heart and upper
chest to provide a reliable heartbeat when the heart's own rhythm
is too fast, too slow, or irregular. A permanent pacemaker is usually
inserted while the patient is in the electrophysiology lab.
Internal cardioverter defibrillator. A defibrillator wire is inserted into the patient's heart and connected
to an implanted device in the chest to send out a small amount of electricity
when needed to jolt the heart rhythm back to normal.
Cardiac procedures for heart disease:
Cardiac catheterization. With this procedure, X-rays are taken after a contrast agent is injected
into an artery to locate the narrowing, occlusions, and other abnormalities
of specific arteries.
Coronary angioplasty. With this procedure, a balloon is used to create a bigger opening in the
blood vessel to increase blood flow. Although angioplasty is performed
in other blood vessels elsewhere in the body, percutaneous coronary intervention
(PCI) refers to angioplasty in the coronary arteries to permit more blood
flow into the heart. PCI is also called percutaneous transluminal coronary
angioplasty (PTCA). There are several types of PCI procedures, including:
Balloon angioplasty. A small balloon is inflated inside the blocked artery to re-establish blood flow.
Atherectomy. The blocked area inside the artery is "shaved" away by a tiny
device on the end of a catheter.
Laser angioplasty. A laser is used to help "vaporize" the blockage in the artery.
Coronary artery stent. A tiny coil is expanded inside the blocked artery to open the blocked area
and is left in place to keep the artery open.
Coronary artery bypass. Most commonly referred to as simply "bypass surgery," this surgery
is often performed in people who have angina (chest pain) and coronary
artery disease (plaque buildup in the arteries). During the surgery, a
bypass is created by grafting a piece of another vessel above and below
the blocked area of a coronary artery, enabling blood to flow around the
obstruction. Veins are usually taken from the leg, but arteries from the
chest or arm may also be used to create a bypass graft.
Heart transplant. A surgical procedure for selected patients whose hearts are so severely
damaged that medications, procedures, and surgical repair cannot help.
A donated heart is transplanted into the patient to replace the damaged heart.
Cardiac procedures for valve disease:
Valvuloplasty. A procedure in which a catheter with a large balloon is used to open a
heart valve that has become narrowed. The catheter is guided through the
aorta to the valve, and once in place within the leaflets, the balloon
is inflated until the leaflets are loosened. The balloon is then deflated
and withdrawn from the body.
Valve repair. A surgical procedure in which a damaged valve is repaired by loosening
stiff valve leaflets or tightening loose valve leaflets.
Valve replacement. In this surgical procedure, a mechanical or tissue valve is transplanted
into the heart to replace the damaged valve.