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Interventional Cardiology at UPMC in Central Pa.

Each year our cardiologists perform thousands of coronary interventional procedures.

Interventional cardiology is a cardiac specialty that deals specifically with catheter based, less invasive diagnosis and treatment of various heart diseases. UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute serves as a regional referral center, offering patients and referring physicians immediate, 24/7 access to experienced interventional cardiologists. At UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, the full spectrum of cardiovascular surgical services are also available.

Cardiac Catheterization

The most common interventional cardiology procedure (catheterization) involves the insertion of a sheath into the groin or wrist artery and passing a catheter to the heart to open a blocked artery with balloon (angioplasty) or a stent (metal sleeve that is inserted to prop open the artery from within). Our interventionalists can also open artery blockages other than heart, including in the neck, kidney, and legs, without the need for surgery. This procedure can be done on an elective or emergency basis.

Cardiac catheterization is also a commonly used diagnostic procedure. This procedure involves threading a small catheter – a long, thin, flexible, hollow tube – through a vein or artery in the groin, from which blood flows into the heart. A technician injects dye into the catheter and takes moving x-ray pictures, or angiograms, of the dye as it travels to the heart.

Emergency Cardiac Catheterization

Emergency cardiac catheterization saves lives. When a patient is admitted with signs of a heart attack, the Emergency Department immediately activates a special process, called Code STEMI, to speed treatment through our nationally recognized Chest Pain Center. This notifies the cardiac catheterization team, the on-call cardiologist and the Cardiac Care Unit to expect a patient and prepare to begin treatment. Patients are then taken to the Cardiac Catheterization Lab, where the team can perform an angioplasty, a procedure in which a balloon-tipped catheter is inserted through an artery in the groin and guided through the artery to the site of the blockage. Once in place, the balloon is inflated to remove the clot causing the heart attack and restoring normal blood flow. A stent may also be placed at this time if the physician feels that it is necessary in order to keep the artery from closing again.

Advanced Interventional Procedures

At all of the locations listed below, we offer the full spectrum of advanced interventional therapies:

  • Transradial (through the wrist area) cardiac catheterization program to offer patients significant benefits over femoral access (through the groin) , including a lower risk of complications, faster recovery and increased comfort
  • Vascular services for arterial and venous disease management

At UPMC Harrisburg only we offer:

Benefits of Interventional Cardiology

Apart from delivering high success rates, interventional cardiology offers heart patients so many benefits, including:

  • Less pain and scarring: Interventional cardiology is less invasive compared to traditional surgery. Normally, the procedure requires a single, tiny incision to insert the catheter. It only takes about 30 minutes to complete the procedure, translating to less pain.
  • Faster recovery: Recovery time is comparatively shorter than other surgical procedures. Patients do not have to stay in the hospital after the operation.
  • Decreases the risk of heart attack: Interventional cardiology not only relieves symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath, but it also opens the arteries and restores blood flow, alleviating the risk of heart attack.
  • Ideal for infants and children: Cardiologists recommend interventional cardiology, particularly balloon valvuloplasty, for infants and children with heart problems given that the procedure is minimally invasive, less painful and highly effective.
  • Less expensive: In terms of costs, interventional cardiology is affordable compared to traditional heart surgery procedures.

Difference Between Interventional Cardiology and Vascular Surgery

Knowing the difference between cardiac catheterization and vascular surgery can help a patient establish the benefits and risks of each procedure. While interventional cardiology can treat a myriad of heart diseases and defects, UPMC vascular surgery focuses on surgery of the arteries, aorta and veins. Below are the main differences between these two procedures:

  • Nature and scope of the procedure: Interventional cardiology is a relatively new concept that uses real-time imaging to perform various procedures on the heart. The procedure doesn't have many demands compared to other heart and vascular procedures. This makes it ideal for treating life-threatening emergencies that require immediate intervention.
  • Pain barrier: Interventional cardiology is minimally invasive and less painful compared to vascular surgery procedures.
  • Hospital stay: With interventional cardiology, patients don't require sedation or general anesthesia. The procedure is almost painless and takes only a few minutes. Vascular surgeries are comparatively longer, and patients require anesthesia. After the operation, the patient may remain in the hospital for days or even weeks before going home.

For more information please contact the office closest to you.


Need more information?

Cumberland/Dauphin/Franklin/Perry Counties: 717-731-0101
Pediatric : 717-761-0200
Hanover: 717-637-1738
York: 717-849-5576
Lancaster/Lititz: 717-299-5000
Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery: 717-231-8555

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