Anomalous Coronary Artery Intervention
What is anomalous coronary artery intervention?
Anomalous coronary artery intervention is a procedure to fix a problem with the coronary
artery. An anomalous coronary artery may have an irregularity with its starting point
or its course, shape, or branching. This problem may cause the artery to be blocked
or narrowed. During the procedure, the blocked part of the artery is opened up. Another
name for this condition is coronary artery anomaly (CAA).
The heart pumps blood to the body and lungs. But it also needs its own supply of blood
to stay alive. The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle. These arteries
start out in the aortic sinuses. The aortic sinuses are in the aorta. The aorta is
the large blood vessel that sends blood from the heart out to the whole body.
There are two coronary arteries that normally start from these sinuses. The right
coronary artery starts out from the right aortic sinus. The left coronary artery starts
out from the left aortic sinus. These two arteries branch off into other coronary
arteries that provide the blood supply to different parts of the heart.
In some people, the branching of the coronary arteries is abnormal. This occurs before
birth. Experts don't know what causes it. It may cause no problems. But in some cases,
major complications or even sudden death may occur.
Fatty deposits may form inside the arteries. This is called atherosclerosis. The deposits
can block blood flow through the arteries. The arteries may also be squeezed (compressed)
due to the abnormal paths they take.
To treat this condition, your healthcare provider can use angioplasty and a small
mesh tube (stent) to fix the artery. The procedure is done with a thin, flexible tube
(catheter) that has a tiny balloon at its tip. The catheter is put into a blood vessel
in the groin or wrist. It’s then gently advanced to the coronary artery. The balloon
is inflated. This pushes aside the fatty deposits and makes space in the artery. Or
it opens up a compressed area. A stent is then put in the area. It’s left in place
to keep the area open. The catheter is then removed.
Why might I need an anomalous coronary artery intervention?
Treatment is often advised for people with this condition who have symptoms. An anomalous
coronary artery may not cause any symptoms. Or it may cause symptoms such as chest
pain or fainting with exercise, or abnormal heart rhythms. This may mean that the
heart muscle is not getting enough blood.
Getting treatment for a blocked anomalous coronary artery can prevent serious problems.
These include lack of blood to the heart muscle (ischemia), irregular heart rhythms,
and sudden cardiac death.
Some people with an anomalous coronary artery can be treated with medicines and lifestyle
changes. In other cases, a person may need the intervention procedure. Or your healthcare
provider may advise a different type of surgery. Talk with your provider about the
risks and benefits of each procedure for you.
What are the risks of anomalous coronary artery intervention?
All procedures have risks. The risks of this procedure include:
Blood vessel damage from the catheters
Blood clot that can lead to stroke or blockage of the stent
Abnormal heart rhythm, which can cause death in rare cases
Allergic reaction to the dye
Need for coronary artery bypass grafting, if the artery doesn’t open with the procedure
Your risks may vary based on your overall health, the severity of your condition,
and other factors. Ask your healthcare provider about which risks apply most to you.
How do I get ready for an anomalous coronary artery intervention?
Talk with your healthcare provider about how to get ready for your procedure.
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take. This includes prescription
medicines and over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin. It also includes vitamins,
herbs, supplements, or illegal drugs. You may need to stop taking some medicines ahead
of time, such as blood thinners.
If you smoke, you’ll need to stop before your procedure. Talk with your healthcare
provider if you need help to stop smoking.
Follow any directions you are given for not eating or drinking before your procedure.
Tell your healthcare provider about any recent changes in your health, such as a fever.
You may need some tests before the procedure, such as:
Chest X-ray. This shows the structures in and around the chest.
Electrocardiogram. This checks the heart rhythm.
Blood tests. These are done to check your general health.
Echocardiogram. This is done to see the heart and the blood flow through the heart.
Multidetector CT scan (MDCT) or cardiac MRI. These may be done if more information about the blood vessels is needed.
What happens during an anomalous coronary artery intervention?
Talk with your healthcare provider about what to expect during your procedure. The
procedure often takes place in a cardiac catheterization lab. A cardiologist and a
team of specialized nurses and technicians work together. A typical procedure may
go like this:
An IV (intravenous) line will be put in your arm or hand before the procedure starts.
You’ll be given sedation through the IV line. This will make you relaxed and sleepy
during the procedure.
Hair in the area of your procedure may be removed. The area may be numbed with a local
The healthcare provider will make a small cut (incision) in a blood vessel in your
groin or wrist. They will then put a long, thin wire into this cut. The wire acts
as a guide during the procedure.
The provider will then insert a thin, flexible tube (catheter) over the wire. It has
a tiny, deflated balloon on the end. The catheter will be threaded through the blood
vessel all the way into the coronary artery. Continuous X-ray images may be used to
show exactly where the catheter is.
The balloon will be inflated inside the narrow part of the artery. This will stretch
the area open.
A mesh tube (stent) may be left in place in the area. This will help keep the area
The balloon will be deflated, and the catheter will be removed.
The incision site in the groin or wrist will be closed and bandaged.
What happens after an anomalous coronary artery intervention?
After the procedure, you will spend several hours in a recovery room. You may be sleepy
and confused when you wake up. Your healthcare team will watch your vital signs, such
as your heart rate and breathing. You’ll be given pain medicine if you need it.
You may need to lie flat without bending your legs for several hours after the procedure.
This is to help prevent bleeding from the incision site. You will need to stay in
the hospital overnight. Your healthcare provider will tell you more about what to
After you go home, you may need to take medicines to help prevent blood clots. You
may need to take them for a short time, or take them for a longer time. You may also
need to take antibiotics. Your healthcare provider will let you know about any other
changes in your medicines. You can take pain medicine at home if you need it. Ask
your healthcare provider which to take.
You can resume your normal activities when you get home. But do not do strenuous activities
or heavy lifting for several days. Your healthcare provider may give you more instructions.
Make sure to keep all of your follow-up appointments. This will help your healthcare
provider keep track of your progress. Your provider may order follow-up tests. These
may include an electrocardiogram or an echocardiogram.
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:
Follow all of your healthcare provider’s instructions. This includes any advice about
medicines, exercise, and wound care.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure, make sure you know:
The name of the test or procedure
The reason you are having the test or procedure
What results to expect and what they mean
The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
What the possible side effects or complications are
When and where you are to have the test or procedure
Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
When and how you will get the results
Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems
How much you will have to pay for the test or procedure