Dorset Heart Clinic has four fully digital, state-of-the-art cardiac catheterisation laboratories capable of performing a comprehensive range of diagnostic and complex interventional procedures, pacemaker and device implantations, as well as simple and complex cardiac electrophysiology & ablation
Procedures we provide
Also known as Cardiac Catheterisation. Coronary angiography (angiogram) is a special x-ray test designed to take pictures of the arteries of the heart. Its done to find out if your coronary arteries are clogged, where and by how much. An angiogram is used by your cardiologist to see if you require further treatment such as angioplasty, coronary artery bypass surgery or medical therapy.
Percutaneous Coronary Intervention
Also known as Percutaneous Coronary Intervention or PCI. Angioplasty uses a very small balloon to ‘squash’ the atheroma (fatty tissue) in the narrowed artery, allowing the blood to flow more easily. A coronary stent is a small, expandable wire mesh tube which is inserted into the diseased artery, serving to hold it open. Angioplasty can also be used if you have previously had coronary artery bypass surgery and your graft has become narrowed.
A pacemaker is a small surgically implantable device which can control the heart’s rhythm when it beast too slowly. Current pacemakers can be implanted in less than one hour and require only a small incision to place the control device and battery under the skin. Most pacemakers will last 5-10 years before battery replacement is necessary.
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a device similar to a pacemaker. It sends a larger electrical shock to the heart that essentially “reboots” it to get it pumping again. Some devices contain both a pacemaker and an ICD. ICDs are often used as a preventative treatment for people thought to be at risk of cardiac arrest at some point in the future. If the ICD senses the heart is beating at a potentially dangerous abnormal rate, it will deliver an electrical shock to the heart. This often helps return the heart to a normal rhythm. Having a pacemaker implanted is a relatively straightforward process. It’s usually carried out under local anaesthetic, which means you’ll be awake during the procedure. The generator is usually placed under the skin near the collarbone on the left side of the chest. The generator is attached to a wire that’s guided through a blood vessel to the heart. The procedure usually takes about an hour, and most people are well enough to leave hospital the day after surgery.
Electrophysiology and Ablation
Electrophysiology studies help diagnose abnormal heart rhythms and identify which areas of the heart are affected. They can also show whether the abnormal rhythm is being controlled effectively with certain medicines. A cardiologist will guide a catheter with an electrode at its tip to the exact site inside the heart where cells give off the electrical signals that stimulate the abnormal rhythm. At this precise site, the tissue undergoes a controlled ablation to permanently stop it from causing further problems. In many cases, this results in a complete cure of the problem.
Cardiac Resynchronisation Therapies
Cardiac Resynchronisation Therapy (CRT) involves the implantation of a pacemaker device and is performed in certain heart failure patients to ensure the heart maintains an optimal rhythm. CRT has revolutionised treatment of some forms of heart failure.
A DC Cardioversion (Direct Current Cardioversion) is a procedure to convert an abnormal heart rhythm to a normal heart rhythm. Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal rhythm). Patients in AF are often not aware of any symptoms and the condition is not, in itself life threatening. However, patients are usually given anti-coagulants (blood thinning) medication – most commonly Warfarin, to protect them from having a stroke. The procedure is carried out under a general anaesthetic and takes just a few minutes.