FAQ

FAQ

Interventional cardiology refers to various non-surgical procedures for treating cardiovascular disease. Interventional cardiologists use catheters - thin, flexible tubes - to get inside blood vessels for diagnostic tests or to repair damaged vessels or other heart structures, often avoiding the need for surgery.
Cardiac catheterization is a test used to evaluate your coronary arteries and heart valve function, It will identify the size and location of plaques that may have built up in your arteries from atherosclerosis, the strength of your heart muscle, and the adequacy of valve function. To start the cardiac catheterization, the interventional cardiologist threads a catheter (thin flexible tube) through a blood vessel in your arm or groin and into your heart. With the catheter in place, the cardiologist can measure blood pressure, take blood samples, and inject dyes into your coronary arteries or arteries elsewhere in your body to trace the movement of blood through the arteries and chambers of the heart. By watching the dye move through your heart�s chambers and blood vessels, your cardiologist can see whether the arteries are narrowed or blocked, and whether the valves are working properly. This helps determine whether you may need bypass or valve surgery (by a cardiac surgeon) or angioplasty or catheter-based valve repair (by an interventional cardiologist).
A stent is a mesh metal tube inserted after angioplasty to keep the artery propped open. Drug-coated stents (also called drug-eluting stents) provide an additional benefit: They release a medication that prevents scarring during the first few weeks after insertion, when scarring is most likely to occur. With traditional stents, about 20% of patients who undergo angioplasty experience restenosis � scarring of tissue around the stent � which can narrow or block the artery again. Use of a drug-coated stent dramatically lowers the patient�s risk of needing another procedure due to restenosis. Although drug-coated stents were just approved by the FDA in April 2003, cardiac patients at BWH have had access to these devices for years, through clinical trials. BWH physicians have been pioneers in all phases of the development of drug-coated stents, and continue to participate in and direct clinical trials offering new generations of these devices to patients.
Cardiac catheterization is most commonly performed by entering the circulatory system through a blood vessel in the groin (the femoral artery). However, at Brigham and Women�s Hospital, over half of patients will have their procedure performed through the radial artery which courses through the wrist.

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