Coronary Artery Catheterization and Stent Insertion

Diagnostic cardiac catheterization, also referred to as coronary angiography, is the most common type of heart catheterization procedure and is considered most effective procedure for diagnosing coronary artery atherosclerosis. It is an invasive procedure that provides important information about the structure and function of the heart, such as stenosis or atherosclerosis, impaired blood supply to the heart, impaired heart valve function, inability of the heart muscle to contract properly, etc.

Coronary unit

Over 20,000 artery catheterization and stent insertion procedures are performed annually in Israel – over 10% of these (2,500) handled at the Sami Ofer Heart Center, at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov).

Coronary angiography can be used to help plan future treatments and carry out certain procedures such as after a heart attack where the heart’s blood supply is blocked.

About the Procedure

A coronary angiogram usually carried out under x-ray imaging to see the heart’s blood vessels.  During the procedure a contrast medium (iodine solution) visible by X-ray is injected into the blood vessels through a plastic catheter. This provides a detailed and accurate picture of the impaired coronary arteries or the blocked sections of the arteries impeding the flow of blood to the heart. The whole procedure is performed under local anesthesia and the patient remains alert during the entire procedure.

Catheterization for coronary angiography is a safe procedure that is usually complication free.

Following the procedure, patients are monitored and are usually able to leave the hospital on the same day. The rehabilitation period is generally quite short and patients may be able to return to their normal activity on the same day as the procedure.

The results from the coronary angiogram can help the doctor determine whether the patient needs treatment such as angioplasty or stent, coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG), or medical therapy.

Stent Insertion Procedure

During coronary angioplasty, dilation of the arteries is achieved by inflating a balloon attached to the tip of the catheter.
The balloon is inflated inside the narrowed section of the artery, dilating the artery which blocks the blood supply to the heart. When the balloon is being inflated, the patient may feel temporary discomfort.

Stents are typically inserted during coronary angioplasty to keep the narrowed arteries permanently open. A stent opens up inside the artery like an umbrella and is pressed firmly against the artery walls.

After the coronary angioplasty procedure, the balloon is deflated and withdrawn from the artery together with the catheter. The ultra-thin metal structure of the stent keeps the artery open, allowing blood to flow freely though the arteries.

What to Expect Following Discharge from Hospital?

Patients are advised to refrain from strenuous physical activity and avoid any injuries or cuts for up to two days after the coronary angioplasty procedure.
Patients will receive follow-up care from the cardiologist for the two weeks following the procedure. It is important to take aspirin or Plavix. It is also recommended to monitor the blood pressure and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Coronary Artery Catheterization and Stent Insertion - Ichilov
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