Frequently Asked Questions
Interventional cardiologists receive cardiology training first, then further interventional cardiology training. Instead of conventional surgery, they will use this additional training to perform minimally invasive procedures requiring minor incisions and catheters. Heart valve defects, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, endocarditis, and peripheral artery disease are among the diseases that these procedures are used to diagnose and treat.
Coronary Angioplasty also called PCI or PTCA – is a noninvasive procedure that helps treat coronary heart disease [blocked coronary arteries] by improving the blood supply to the heart muscle, through widening and opening of the narrowed coronary arteries. It is used to stop heart attacks in progress, treat chest pain (angina), and restore blood flow through the coronary arteries. The procedure is performed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory (or cath lab) by a specialized Interventional cardiologist.
Angiogram is performed prior to an Angioplasty. Here, a thin plastic tube is inserted into an artery in the groin or arm. A long, narrow, hollow tube, called a catheter, is passed through the sheath and guided up the blood vessel to the arteries surrounding the heart. A small amount of contrast liquid is injected through the catheter and is photographed with an X-ray as it moves through the heart’s chambers, valves, and major vessels. From the digital pictures of the contrast material, the doctors can tell whether the coronary arteries are narrowed and whether the heart valves are working correctly.
Intravascular imaging has revolutionized the precision of angioplasty. One type of imaging is the Intravascular Ultrasound, where a miniature probe is used to study the nature of the plaque. Where regular angiography shows only a two-dimensional silhouette of the interior of the coronary arteries, IVUS visualizes the coronary artery from inside-out. This unique point-of-view picture, generated in real time, yields valuable information.
Yet another innovative method of intravascular imaging is Optical Coherence Tomography [OCT]. This produces high resolution intracoronary images using infrared light.
The new imaging technologies give crucial information whether the plaque blocking the vessel is hard or soft, is made up of lipids or calcium etc. They can also give accurate detail about the size of stent that may be needed, and assess post stenting status of the vessel as well.
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) or Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).The most commonly replaced valves are the aortic and mitral valves.
The mitral valve is a highly complex structure, the competency and function of which relies on the harmonious action of its component parts.
Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) or intravascular echocardiography is a combination of echocardiography and a procedure called cardiac catheterization.
Fractional Flow Reserve, or FFR, is a guide wire-based procedure that can accurately measure blood pressure and flow through a specific part of the coronary artery. FFR is done through a standard diagnostic catheter at the time of a coronary angiogram (a.k.a. cardiac catheterization).