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Cardiology - Invasive Adult Diagnostic Testing and Procedures

Cardiac Catheterization/Electrophysiologic Laboratory: A thin catheter (tube) is inserted through an artery or vein, usually in an arm or leg, and advanced into the major vessels and heart chambers. To reach the right side of the heart, the physician inserts the catheter into a vein; to reach the left side, it is inserted into an artery. Catheters can be placed in the heart either for diagnosis or for treatment. The person receives local anesthesia before the procedure.

Cardioversion: A controlled electrical shock to the heart to correct an irregular rhythm. The patient is sedated, while being monitored very carefully by a doctor or a registered nurse.

Extracorpeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) – provides both cardiac and respiratory oxygen to support patients whose heart and lungs are diseased or damaged.

Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD) Device Placement Checks: An ICD is a small electronic device placed permanently inside your body. The ICD continually monitors your heart rhythm. If it senses your heart beating too fast, the ICD can pace the heart to slow down. If necessary, the ICD can send out one or more electric shocks to return the heart to normal rhythm. Generally, after the device is implanted, the electrophysiologist will check the device before the patient goes home. The patient is moderately sedated and monitored by a registered nurse while the physician implants the ICD and makes adjustments as needed for that specific patient.

Intra-Aortic Balloon Insertion: A catheter with a large balloon is placed in the patient's aorta by a cardiologist. The timed inflation and deflation of this large helium-filled balloon facilitates filling of the coronary arteries and emptying blood from the left ventricle.

Pacemaker Insertion (Temporary or Permanent): A pacemaker helps treat a slow heart rhythm. It is a small, lightweight electronic device that is placed permanently inside the body. A pacemaker keeps track of the heartbeat and, when necessary, generates electrical signals similar to the heart's natural signals. These signals keep the heart beating at the correct speed.

Primary Angioplasty (With Emergent or Elective Placement of Coronary Stents for Acute Myocardial Infarction): After a diagnostic catheterization identifies a blocked artery, the interventional cardiologist passes a catheter from the patient's groin up to the coronary artery. A guide wire is threaded through the catheter past the point of the blockage. The artery is opened with a balloon, restoring blood flow. A stent may be inserted to hold the artery open. Post-intervention, the patient recovers in the cardiac care unit or may be transferred, if appropriate. This procedure can be performed on an elective or emergency basis.

Pulmonary Artery Catheter Insertion: A small catheter is placed in a major vein. This catheter is able to measure pressures in the right side of the heart.

Transesophageal Echocardiography (TEE): A diagnostic test using an ultrasound device that is passed into the esophagus of the patient, to create a clear image of the heart muscle and other parts of the heart. A tube with a device called a transducer is passed into the patient's throat and the esophagus (the food tube that connects the mouth and the stomach). The transducer directs ultrasound waves in the heart, and the reflected sound waves, picked up by the transducer, are translated into an image of the heart. A TEE usually lasts approximately 30-60 minutes.

For further information, call the Physician and Health Referral Line at (631) 376-4444.