Cardiac catheterisation- coronary angioplasty
What is cardiac catherisation?
We perform cardiac catheterisation and coronary angioplasty at the American Medical Center where we can offer top quality inpatient care including interventional cardiac procedures in this centre of excellence with state of the art facilities.
Cardiac catheterisation is an invasive procedure during which specially designed catheters (long, fine hollow rubber tubes) are advanced to the heart through a tiny hole made to an artery (vascular access).
The traditional access site is the femoral artery located at the top of each leg at the level of the groin. Modern techniques and equipment have allowed the procedure to be performed through a much smaller artery in the wrist (radial artery) which is more patient friendly as it allows early mobilisation and less activity restrictions.
Generally the procedure is almost pain-free and is done under local anaesthesia at the access site. Mild sedation for patient comfort is also widely used.
Cardiac catheterisation can help retrieve vital information about the coronary arteries with the use of x-ray imaging and special x-ray contrast injected through the catheter (coronary angiography). In this way a set of pictures of all coronary arteries are taken from various angles and possible narrowings and / or blockages are identified.
Catheteriastion can also help gain information about the state of specific heart valves as well as take recordings of pressures inside different heart chambers.
Using the same technique, narrowed or blocked arteries can be treated with special equipment such as balloons to stretch the narrowing, and coronary stents which are tiny fine mesh-like metallic tubes which are implanted at the site of the narrowing and act as scaffolds to hold the artery open (coronary angioplasty). This procedure relieves the obstruction of a coronary artery and allows good blood flow to the heart muscle. It is used both to alleviate symptoms of angina as well as prevent heart attacks in specific situations.
What is an ECG?
An ECG test (electrocardiogram) is a non invasive procedure that takes about five minutes to perform. The test records the electrical activity of the heart, giving the doctor information about the rate and rhythm of your heartbeat. It can also tell the doctor basic information about the size and shape of the heart, and the effects of certain medications that you may be taking.
What will happen to me?
You will be guided to the couch where the test will be performed. The doctor will provide you with a gown, and ask you to remove your clothes from your waist upwards. You will be able to leave your shoes and trousers on, but ladies may have to remove their tights. You will be asked to lie onto the couch, on your back. The doctor will wipe your skin first, before placing a series of electrodes (stickers) on your chest and also on your arms and legs. A wire will then be connected to each electrode as in the picture to the left. It is important that at this point you remain still and breathe normally. You won't feel any pain or discomfort. After about twenty seconds the doctor will have a print out of your ECG ready for him to interpret. You will then be able to dress whilst the doctor interprets the results.
What happens next?
Once you are dressed, the doctor will be able to inform you of the results of your ECG test. This may be the only test that you need to have. If your ECG result indicates to the doctor that other tests are needed, he will explain this to you, and what information these tests will provide.