Minimally invasive cardiac procedures are effective in diagnosing and treating many kinds of heart conditions, including aortic stenosis, atherosclerosis (caused by plaque buildup) and atrial fibrillation.
The cardiac catheterization lab, which opened in 2014 at Midtown Medical Center, provides some of the most advanced care in the region. Here patients can have diagnostic imaging and then undergo interventional procedures immediately. In most cases, this makes open-heart surgery unnecessary.
Left- and right-heart catheterizations can effectively diagnose any number of coronary diseases. The procedure involves inserting a long, thin tube into a large blood vessel, either in the groin or arm, leading to the heart. Cardiologists use the test to check blood flow, blood pressure in the heart’s chambers, as well as heart function.
Once a catheter is in place, non-surgical treatments are used to open clogged arteries and improve blood flow. One procedure is angioplasty, in which a small balloon at the tip of the catheter is inserted near the narrowed area to push fatty plaque against the artery walls and widen the vessel walls. This is usually combined with stenting, where small, metal mesh tubes are inserted to hold the artery open.
Certain surgical procedures are also performed in the cardiac cath lab to correct heart rhythm problems, such as arrhythmia. These procedures include implanting artificial pacemakers and defibrillators. Pacemakers use electrical impulses to regulate the heartbeat. Defibrillators can help correct most arrhythmias and prevent sudden cardiac death.
The hybrid operating room (OR) at Midtown Medical Center is different from a typical surgical suite and is the only one of its kind in the region. In a standard OR environment, a surgeon has to wait until the patient is transported to an imaging suite to “get a look inside.” With a hybrid OR, surgeons can get a real-time look at what’s going on, using advanced imaging technology right in the surgical suite. They can perform interventional procedures immediately. At Midtown, the hybrid OR is used exclusively by vascular surgeons for stenting in all vessels except for the heart.
Because of advanced technological capabilities, Midtown Medical Center is able to provide help for heart patients that doesn’t involve open-heart surgery. By avoiding open surgery, patients avoid both the risks associated with such procedures and the inconvenience associated with a longer recovery period. While each case is different, in many situations, patients who have a heart procedure in the morning at the cath lab are discharged later that day.