Interventional cardiology is a branch of cardiology that deals specifically with the catheter-based treatment of structural heart diseases. Andreas Gruentzig is considered the father of interventional cardiology after the development of angioplasty by interventional radiologist Charles Dotter.
A large number of procedures can be performed on the heart by catheterization. This most commonly involves the insertion of a sheath into the femoral artery (but, in practice, any large peripheral artery or vein) and cannulating the heart under X-ray visualization (most commonly fluoroscopy). The radial artery may also be used for cannulation; this approach offers several advantages, including the accessibility of the artery in most patients, the easy control of bleeding even in anticoagulated patients, the enhancement of comfort because patients are capable of sitting up and walking immediately following the procedure, and the near absence of clinically significant sequelae in patients with a normal Allen test. Downsides to this approach include spasm of the artery and pain, inability to use larger catheters needed in some procedures, and more radiation exposure.
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