These procedures are used to evaluate and treat heart and blood vessel disease (cardiovascular
disease or coronary artery disease). Talk to your doctor or heart care professional
for more specific information.
Cardiac catheterization. With this procedure, your doctor will place a thin tube called a catheter into the
heart through a blood vessel in the leg or arm. Then, a contrast agent is injected
and X-rays are taken. This is done to find the narrowing, blockages, and other abnormalities
of specific arteries.
Coronary angioplasty. With this procedure, a balloon-tipped catheter is used to expand a narrowing in the
blood vessel to increase blood flow. Although angioplasty is done in other blood vessels
elsewhere in the body, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) refers to angioplasty
in the coronary arteries to let more blood flow into the heart. PCI is also called
percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA). There are several types of
PCI procedures, including:
Balloon angioplasty. A small balloon is inflated inside the blocked artery to re-establish blood flow. This
is often accompanied by stent placement.
Coronary artery stent. A tiny mesh coil is expanded inside the blocked artery to open the blocked area and
is left in place to keep the artery open.
Atherectomy. The blocked area inside the artery is "shaved" away by a tiny device on the end of
Laser angioplasty. A laser is used to help "vaporize" the blockage in the artery.
Coronary artery bypass. Often called "bypass surgery," or CABG (pronounced cabbage), this surgery is often
done in people who have chest pain (angina) and plaque buildup in the arteries (coronary
artery disease). During the surgery, the blocked artery is bypassed by using a piece
of another healthy blood vessel from elsewhere in the body. The healthy blood vessel
is attached above and below the blocked area of a coronary artery. This lets blood
flow around the blockage. Veins are usually taken from the leg. Arteries from the
chest or arm may also be used to create a bypass graft. Sometimes, multiple bypasses
may be needed to restore blood flow to all areas of the heart.
Intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP). An IABP is a device to help your heart pump more blood. The device consists of a thin,
flexible tube (a catheter) with a long balloon at its tip (intra-aortic balloon, or
IAB). At the other end, the catheter attaches to a computer. The balloon is inflated
and deflated. An IABP lets blood flow more easily into your coronary arteries to help
give oxygen to the heart muscle. It also lets your heart pump more blood with each
Ventricular assist device (VAD). A VAD is a mechanical device used to take over the pumping function for one or both
of the heart's ventricles, or pumping chambers. A VAD may be needed when heart failure
progresses to the point that medicines and other treatments are no longer effective.
A VAD can be used as a bridge to transplant for a person who is waiting for a heart
Heart transplant. A surgical procedure for selected people whose hearts are so severely damaged that
medicines, procedures, and surgical repair cannot help. A donated heart is transplanted
into the patient to replace the damaged heart.