Your heart is a complex organ that is linked to every aspect of your health. That’s why knowing how well your heart is functioning and if it has any impediments is so important. In the Sutter Health network, interventional cardiology experts offer a wide range of diagnostic and treatment options to identify and remedy conditions that may be interfering with your heart.
Angioplasty and Stent Placement
Angioplasty is a procedure where a blood vessel that has reduced or blocked blood flow to your heart is made wider and opened by inserting a small tube-like device called a catheter. Another short tube-like device called a stent may also be placed to offer structural support and keep the blood vessel from narrowing again. Your doctor may recommend angioplasty and stent placement if your arteries have plaque buildup from peripheral artery disease or, in some cases, as an alternative to bypass surgery. Angioplasty and stent placement is commonly used for the heart, carotid artery and peripheral arteries.
One way to effectively diagnose if plaque is reducing or blocking the flow of blood to your heart is through a cardiac catheterization. During this minimally invasive test, your doctor can evaluate several different aspects of your heart, collect blood samples, or perform an angioplasty and stent placement. It’s common for doctors to conduct an angiography, where he or she guides a catheter that injects X-ray dye through your coronary arteries. While guiding the catheter, X-rays are taken that allow your doctor to see areas of plaque buildup, called atherosclerosis. Left heart catheterization can also be used to look for disease, tumors and heart defects. If a patient is very ill, a Swan-Ganz right heart catheterization may be performed to monitor blood flow and evaluate the heart’s capacity.
Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Surgery
If you have aortic regurgitation or aortic stenosis, your doctor may recommend aortic valve surgery. This once required open heart surgery, with a long recovery. Now, however, there is a minimally invasive technique called TAVR, transcatheter aortic valve replacement, that may be an option for patients at moderate to high risk from surgery. Sutter Health was among one of the first five facilities approved by the FDA to perform this groundbreaking procedure that doesn’t require removing the original valve. Instead a catheter is used to insert a replacement valve that expands and begins regulating blood flow.