Interventional cardiology is a medical specialty that treats heart and blood vessel conditions — like coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease and cardiac defects — using catheters. This approach allows people to receive lifesaving heart procedures without needing open heart surgery.
Catheter-guided heart care
Major surgery isn’t the only treatment option for people living with a serious heart condition. We can treat many complex conditions using catheters, which are long tubes that are thinner than a strand of spaghetti.
Compared to open heart surgery, interventional cardiology requires smaller surgical incisions and less recovery time. These treatment approaches can restore proper blood flow, repair holes in the heart, implant lifesaving medical devices and reduce a person’s risk of stroke or heart attack.
You may benefit from interventional cardiology if you’re living with one or a combination of the following heart conditions:
Interventional cardiology focuses on managing healthy blood flow in and out of your heart. We'll look for any blockages that could interrupt healthy blood flow and listen to your heart beat for any irregular rhythms. We use a series of cardiac imaging tests to help diagnose conditions, including:
A catheterization laboratory, also known as a cath lab, is a facility with state-of-the-art equipment designed for evaluating serious heart and blood vessel conditions. Your doctor may send you to the cath lab for tests like right heart catheterization, a minimally invasive test where a catheter is inserted into the heart to see how well it’s pumping.
From being among the first to treat alcohol septal ablation in Boston, you can trust that we're at the forefront of what’s next in interventional cardiology care, and what's next in your personal healthcare.
Interventional cardiologists perform the following catheter-based procedures and surgeries:
- Alcohol septal ablation for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
- Catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation (AFib)
- Heart catheterization
- Inserting the WATCHMAN™ device
- Patent foramen ovale (PFO) closure
- TMVR with MitraClip
- Ventricular assist device (VAD) placement
Patent foramen ovale (PFO) closure
Everyone is born with a small hole between the heart’s upper chambers. This hole naturally closes after birth, but when it doesn’t, it’s called a patent foramen ovale (PFO). A PFO on its own doesn’t create many complications, but it can lead to an increased risk of stroke later in life.
To reduce the risk of future strokes for people with a PFO, our brightest minds in cardiovascular medicine are leading clinical trials to test new ways to repair PFOs without surgery.
We can replace diseased heart valves with a non-surgical approach known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). This lifesaving procedure is an excellent option for people who aren’t candidates for open heart surgery.
TMVR with MitraClip™
Not everyone living with a leaky heart valve (known as mitral valve regurgitation) is a candidate for heart surgery. That’s where a less-invasive, non-surgical treatment option called transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVR) with MitraClip™ therapy comes into play.
Our goal is to tightly close the leaky valve so that the heart doesn’t have to work overtime pumping blood to the rest of your body.
During the TMVR with MitraClip™ procedure, the doctor makes a small incision in the thigh to access the femoral artery. Using an imaging device like an X-ray or ultrasound, the doctor threads the catheter through the vein and up to the mitral valve in your heart. The MitraClip™ follows the catheter up to your heart where it then clips the valves tighter together. The doctor wraps up the procedure by removing the catheter.
Ventricular assist device (VAD)
When the heart can’t function properly on its own, your doctor may recommend surgically implanting a ventricular assist device (VAD). This small mechanical device helps your heart pump blood from its lower chambers (ventricles) to the rest of your body.
We’re currently researching new designs and uses for these lifesaving devices, including where they’re placed using less invasive, catheter-based approaches.
WATCHMAN™ reduces the risk of stroke by permanently closing off the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep blood clots from escaping. Unlike the risks and restrictions linked to medications like Warfarin, people who opt for a WATCHMAN™ device can eliminate:
- Bleeding risks
- The need for regular blood tests
- Food and drink restrictions
In a clinical trial, 92% of people were able to stop taking Warfarin just 45 days after the WATCHMAN™ procedure, and 99% were completely off Warfarin within the first year of the procedure.
To implant WATCHMAN™, your doctor makes a small incision in your upper leg and inserts a catheter. Your doctor then uses the catheter to guide the WATCHMAN™ into your heart’s LAA.
Following the procedure, you’ll take a blood thinner for 45 days or until your LAA is permanently closed off. During this time, heart tissue will grow over the implant to form a barrier against blood clots. Your doctor will monitor this process by taking pictures of your heart with an echocardiogram (ultrasound) about 45 days after your procedure.
If your doctor sees that the WATCHMAN™ device is healing well, they may stop your blood thinners and prescribe a medicine called clopidogrel (also known as Plavix®) and aspirin for 6 months. After that, you’ll continue to take aspirin on a regular basis.
The WATCHMAN™ device is a permanent implant designed to close the left atrial appendage (LAA) in the heart in an effort to reduce the risk of stroke.
There are risks associated with all medical procedures, and implanting the WATCHMAN™ device is no exception. The risks include but are not limited to:
- Accidental heart puncture
- Air embolism
- Allergic reaction
- Anesthesia risks
- AV (arteriovenous) fistula
- Bleeding or throat pain from the TEE (transesophageal echo) probe
- Blood clot or air bubbles in the lungs or other organs
- Bruising at the catheter insertion site
- Clot formation on the WATCHMAN™ closure device
- Cranial bleeding
- Excessive bleeding
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Groin puncture bleed
- Pulmonary edema
- Pulmonary vein obstruction
- Renal failure
- Transient ischemic attack
In rare cases death can occur. Be sure to talk with your doctor so that you thoroughly understand all of the risks and benefits associated with a WATCHMAN™ implantation.