In the Digital Cath Labs, Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute physicians can use these high technology procedures to help restore blood flow in heart vessels without open-heart surgery.
During this procedure, a wire is passed directly to the blocked part of the patient's coronary artery and a tiny balloon passes over the wire and is inflated to clear the blockage. This very precise procedure is made easier by enlarged computer images which appear on monitors in the Cath Lab during the procedure. In many cases, open-heart surgical repair of the coronary arteries can be postponed or avoided completely.
This procedure is very similar to an angioplasty, but in addition, a coronary stent (a small mesh-like wire tube) is placed in a blocked or narrowed coronary artery to help keep it open. This permanent placement acts like a pipe or scaffold to hold the artery open.
Rotational atherectomy is used for certain types of blockages in the coronary arteries. This procedure involves the insertion of a different type of catheter that has a high-speed, rotational "burr" that breaks up blockages into very small fragments that can pass, harmlessly, into the circulation. Angioplasty may be performed after atherectomy, depending upon the results.
When the heart's natural pacemaker fails, an artificial pacemaker can be implanted. Once implanted, the pacemaker will emit a series of electrical signals, which result in regular contractions of the heart and the restoration of normal blood flow through the circulatory system.
An ICD is a light-weight electronic device implant under the skin that tracks heart rhythm and slows down or halts excessively rapid heart rates. Some of these rhythms, if untreated, would cause fatal outcomes within minutes. The procedure for insertion of the ICD is very similar to that of a pacemaker.
Ablations are performed at CMC-Mercy by a specially trained cardiologist called an electrophysiologist. This procedure, which is performed at the same time as an electrophysiology study, is done to treat fast heart rates. During an ablation, a catheter is guided into the heart to locate and eliminate the source of the irregular rhythm.
Another procedure performed to correct a heart arrhythmia is the cardioversion. Used to correct atrial fibrillation, cardioversion involves sending an electrical shock to the heart. The shock briefly interrupts the heart, disrupts the arrhythmia and restores the heart to a normal rhythm.