Common Heart Procedures

No one is eager for surgery. So, our philosophy is to carefully work through the pros and cons of alternative treatments with you. We’ll always recommend the least invasive procedure that can still deliver an optimal outcome. For instance, because of advances in catheter-based procedures, fewer patients require bypass surgery. And even if bypass surgery is still the answer, new techniques have resulted in fewer complications and shorter, less painful recovery.

Invasive, Non-Surgical Procedures and Techniques


  • AngioJet® Clot Busting is used to clear blood clots from coronary arteries before angioplasty and stenting. The device delivers a high pressure saline solution through the artery to the clot, breaking it up and simultaneously drawing it out
  • Balloon Angioplasty is used to open a clogged blood vessel. A thin tube is threaded through an artery to the narrowed heart vessel, where a small balloon at its tip is inflated. A balloon opens the narrowing by compressing atherosclerotic plaque against the vessel wall. The balloon is then deflated and removed. More information
  • Laser Angioplasty. Similar to balloon angioplasty, a laser tip is used to burn/break down plaque in the clogged blood vessel. More information
  • Atherectomy is used to open blocked coronary arteries or clear bypass grafts by using a device on the end of a catheter to cut or shave away atherosclerotic plaque. Atherectomy can be used instead of, or along with, balloon angioplasty. More information
  • Balloon valvuloplasty can open up a narrow or valve with the same technique used for balloon angioplasty.
  • Intracoronary radiation therapy (also called Intravascular Bracytherapy or IVB) is used to prevent stented heart vessels from forming a blockage of scar tissue. By delivering radiation to the affected area, formation of scar tissue is reduced.
  • Myocardial biopsy is a procedure that is performed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory. A catheter is inserted into a vein in your neck or leg. An instrument called a bioptome is threaded through the catheter into the right ventricle of the heart. The physician takes four to five tiny samples of heart tissue. The samples are approximately the size of the head of a pin.
  • Stent implantation. A stainless steel mesh coil is implanted in a narrowed part of an artery to keep it propped open.

Heart Assist Device Implantation

Patients whose heart failure symptoms continue after medical therapies have been exhausted may require insertion of a special device to assist the heart.

  • Partial Assist Devices. Devices can be surgically implanted to provide partial assistance to the left ventricle. The patient’s own heart continues to do some fundamental work.
    • Intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP). Also called intra-aortic balloon counterpulsation. It is used to reduce the workload of your heart and to improve the flow of blood to your coronary arteries. An inflatable balloon catheter is inserted through the femoral artery (in the groin) and threaded through into the aorta. The balloon is inflated and deflated with a pump to coordinate with each heartbeat.
    • Ventricular assist device (VAD). Also called a heart pump. A VAD is a surgically implanted mechanical pump device. An LVAD (left ventricular assist device) simulates the work of the left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of the heart. An RVAD simulates the work of the right ventricle, and a BiVAD (biventricular assist device) works similarly to an LVAD but connects the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery. More about ventricular assist devices

Heart Pacing Device Implantation

  • Automatic Implantable (or Internal) Cardioverter Defibrillator (AICD). AICDs are used for treating irregular heartbeats, like atrial fibrillation (an abnormally fast and highly irregular heartbeat) and ventricular tachycardia (a fast heartbeat caused by abnormal electrical signals). The defibrillator is surgically placed inside the patient’s chest where it monitors the heart’s rhythm. When it identifies a serious arrhythmia it produces an electrical shock to disrupt the arrhythmia.
  • Pacemakers. Pacemakers are implanted to send electrical signals to make the heart beat when your heart’s natural pacemaker is not working properly. This electrical device is placed under the skin. A lead extends from the device to the right side of the heart. Most pacemakers are used to correct a slow heart rate.

Patient Guides For Common Heart Procedures

Cardiac Catheterization
Coronary Angioplasty
Electrophysiology (EP) Study
Implantible Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)
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