Our heart care team performs hundreds of open-heart surgeries each year, as well as other important procedures to correct heart valve problems, as well as diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
Diagnosing Heart Problems
We use a wide variety of tests and procedures to diagnose heart problems, including:
- Balloon Angioplasty, or PTCA
- Electrophysiology Studies
- Cardiac Biopsy
- Event Monitors
- Cardiac Defibrillator Implantation
- Holter Monitor
- Cardiovascular Stress Testing
- Nuclear Cardiology Imaging
- Coronary Atherectomy
- Radio Frequency Ablation
- Coronary Stents
- Right and Left Heart Catheterization
- Diagnostic Coronary Angiograms
- Pacemaker Clinic
- Pacemaker Implantation
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Peripheral Vascular Ultrasound
Electrocardiography is a testing method commonly used to determine if the heart has been damaged. Also called E.C.G. or E.K.G., an electrocardiogram is a print-out of the heart's electrical impulses.
A holter monitor is a electrocardiogram recorded over longer time, captured over a 24-hour or 48-hour period.
Event monitors are monitoring devices worn for a 30-day period to check for heart rhythm irregularities. The patient pushes a button when they feel a symptom, such as an irregular heartbeat.
Cardiovascular Stress Testing
Cardiovascular stress testing is monitoring the heart during exercise.
Echocardiography is an ultrasound of the heart that shows it working, in motion.
Peripheral Vascular Ultrasound
A peripheral vascular ultrasound is an ultrasound of the blood vessels to show any blockages.
Nuclear Cardiology Imaging
Nuclear Cardiology Imaging is a stress test that utilizes a radioactive tracer (delivered via an injection) to identify blockages in the major blood vessels that lead to the heart. (Unlike cardiac catheterization, this does not require insertion of a catheter into the blood vessels.)
A pacemaker is an implanted device that helps regulate your heartbeat. The Pacemaker Clinic allows a patient to have the pacemaker's proper functioning checked over a telephone line, using special equipment.
Cardiac Catheterization Lab Testing
Diagnostic Coronary Angiograms
A diagnostic coronary angiogram is a procedure where a catheter inserted in the groin is used to inject dye into the coronary arteries, to allow the physician to find blockages or narrowed spots that may prevent oxygenated blood from reaching the heart muscle.
Balloon Angioplasty, or PTCA
Angioplasty is one method of widening narrowed arteries. A catheter with a deflated balloon on its tip is passed into the narrowed part of the artery. Then the balloon is inflated, and the narrowed area is widened.
Coronary stents (which look like a tiny wire mesh tube) are used to prop open an artery. The stent is collapsed to a small diameter, placed over an angioplasty balloon catheter and moved into the area of the blockage. When the balloon is inflated, the stent expands, locks in place and forms a rigid support to hold the artery open. The stent remains in the artery permanently and holds it open to improve blood flow to the heart muscle.
Right and Left Heart Catheterization
A right and left heart catheterization measure the heart's ability to pump blood to the rest of the body and how well the main valves of the heart are working. A catheter is inserted through the groin area into the right and left side of the heart. Pressure measurements are recorded in the various chambers of the heart.
Coronary atherectomy is a procedure performed to remove plaque, calcium buildup or blood clots from the coronary arteries. Specialized catheters, inserted into the groin artery, work in different ways to remove foreign matter from the heart arteries.
The implantation of a small, battery-operated device that helps the heart beat in a regular rhythm.
Cardiac Defibrillator Implantation
In some people, the heart beats ineffectively, which can cause sudden death if not treated immediately. In these patients, a small device called an implantable cardioverter defibrillator or ICD is inserted below the collarbone and connected to the heart by wires. The ICD delivers a small shock, which "resets" the electrical signals in the heart, causing it to beat normally again.
Electrophysiology studies are specialized tests performed to assess how well the heart's electrical signals are working. Multiple catheters are inserted through the groin into the heart chambers. Highly specialized equipment is then used to record the heart's electrical signals. These signals must work perfectly in order for the heart to beat effectively.
Radio Frequency Ablation
If an abnormal electrical pathway is discovered during an electrophysiology study, this pathway can be eliminated using radiofrequency ablation. A catheter is inserted through a vein in the groin. When the catheter is properly positioned across the abnormal pathway, a radio frequency is generated in the catheter tip, causing a scar to form, eliminating the pathway.
A cardiac biopsy is performed on patients that have had a heart transplant. Using a catheter, a very small tissue sample is obtained from the heart and examined for signs of rejection.