Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute’s interventional cardiologists at Morristown Medical Center are recognized pioneers in new therapies for cardiac patients with narrowed arteries. Our physicians can treat even the highest risk patients with the latest in minimally invasive procedures, cardiac mechanical support and stent technologies.
Patients with blocked arteries (atherosclerosis) may undergo one of these procedures:
- Diagnostic cardiac catheterization and angiography
- Cardiac catheterization and angioplasty by radial artery approach – uses the arm, rather than the groin, to gain access to the heart arteries. This results in a significantly lower risk of bleeding complications, is more comfortable for patients and often permits a quicker recovery.
- Balloon angioplasty – opens clogged arteries by compressing plaque against the artery wall. A catheter tipped with a small balloon is moved into the clogged area and is repeatedly inflated and deflated to compress the plaque, improving blood flow. This often eliminates the need for bypass surgery and helps patients who are not healthy enough for major surgery.
- Rotoblator – a rotational cutting device that spins at a very high speed to make a channel in the artery, permitting other treatments to be performed
- Atherectomy – opens blockages in coronary arteries using a special catheter that reduces the plaque into small particles, which can then be removed from the artery
- Coronary stenting – keeps arteries open after an atherectomy or angioplasty by inserting a tiny wire-mesh coil, called a stent, which remains in the artery and becomes covered with a new layer of tissue in about a month
- Valvuloplasty – similar to balloon angioplasty, uses a balloon that is positioned at the site of the blockage and is inflated and deflated several times to widen the heart valve and allow blood to flow more easily through the heart
- Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and intracardiac echocardiography (ICE)
- Closure of patent foramen ovale in patients after stroke
- Closure of atrial septal defects (ASD)
Speed is often critical for successful angioplasty or stent surgery – the faster an artery is unblocked with a stent, the more heart muscle is saved. Rapid emergency response, called “door to balloon time,” increases survival rate and preserves the quality of life for acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) patients. We reduce response time with several strategies:
- Expert on-site nursing and technical staff dedicated to angioplasty and stent patients for night shifts
- A one-call system, in which a central operator contacts and mobilizes an angioplasty team
- Paramedics to transmit EKG results en route, so our cardiac catheterization lab is ready when the patient arrives at the hospital