Interventional Cardiology refers to diagnostics and non-surgical treatments of the heart. Cardiac interventions are used to diagnosis and treat coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease and congenital heart disease.
A large number of procedures can be performed on the heart by catheterization. This most commonly involves the insertion of a sheath into the femoral artery (but, in practice, any large peripheral artery or vein) and cannulating the heart under X-ray visualization (most commonly fluoroscopy, a real-time x-ray).
Procedures performed by specialists in interventional cardiology:
- Angioplasty (PTCA, Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty) - for coronary atherosclerosis
- Valvuloplasty - dilation of narrowed cardiac valves (usually mitral, aortic or pulmonary) Procedures for congenital heart disease - insertion of occluders for ventricular or atrial septal defects, occlusion of patent ductus arteriosus, angioplasty of great vessels
- Emergency angioplasty and stenting of occluded coronary vessels in the setting of acute myocardial infarction
- Coronary Thrombectomy - a procedure performed to remove thrombus (blood clot) from blood vessels.
Invasive procedures of the heart to treat arrhythmias are performed by specialists in clinical cardiac electrophysiology.
Surgery of the heart is done by the specialty of cardiothoracic surgery. Some interventional cardiology procedures are only performed when there is cardiothoracic surgery expertise in the hospital, in case of complications.