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St. Mary-Corwin is a leader in cardiovascular diagnostic technology and imaging procedures. Our board-certified cardiologists and radiologists are known throughout southern Colorado for their expertise and ability to diagnose heart disease and other medical conditions.
Using state-of-the-art technology and the expertise of a comprehensive cardiovascular treatment team, St. Mary-Corwin frequently performs numerous diagnostic procedures and tests, including the following:
The Electrophysiology (EP) Lab at St. Mary-Corwin is used to study the heart's electrical function and to locate sites inside the heart that may be causing abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). The electrophysiologist, a cardiologist who specializes in the electrical system of the heart, works with a highly-skilled team of nurses and technicians to study and treat arrhythmias. The EP lab combines state-of-the-art equipment and cardiac specialists to perform all procedures.
Temporary PacingTemporary heart pacing is primarily performed to correct a slow heart rate. It can be used to treat slow heart rates that do not respond to drug therapy. Temporary heart pacing is achieved by threading a small wire (pacing electrode) through a vein positioned in the patient's heart. A pulse generator gives small electrical impulses to stimulate the heartbeat.Pacemaker/Defibrillator Implantation & Pacemaker Clinic If a patient suffers from a slow or a fast heartbeat, there are implantable devices that will make the heartbeat regular and treat an arrhythmia. Slow heartbeats are treated with pacemakers. Fast, dangerous heartbeats, which may lead to cardiac arrest, are treated with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs). Our clinicians work closely with physicians to provide effective quality care to each and every patient. The patient is seen initially three months after the pacemaker or ICD is placed. All pacemakers or ICDs are then followed on a regular basis, whether it be every three months for an ICD or every six months for pacemakers. As the device ages, inspections may occur more frequently to monitor the appropriate time for replacementRemote Monitoring Many patients qualify for remote monitoring. Using state-of-the-art technology, our clinic is able to inspect the device remotely via the internet. This enables the patient to transmit information and receive the same quality care without the need for a hospital visit. This is extremely beneficial for patients who live out of the local area or who are unable to travel. If a patient feels he or she has had a cardiac event, this remote monitoring can be used to assess the device and alert the physician in a timely manner, without the need to be seen in the emergency room or clinic.Electrophysiology Studies If you have abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or palpitations you may need this test. Similar to an angiography, fine tubes (electrode catheters) are fed into a vein and/or artery usually in the groin. They are then gently moved into the heart, where they stimulate the heart and record your heart's electrical activity.Arrhythmia Ablation Ablation is used to treat abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias. The type of arrhythmia and the presence of other heart disease will determine whether ablation can be performed surgically or non-surgically. Non-surgical ablation, used for many types of arrhythmias, is performed in the EP lab at St. Mary-Corwin. During this non-surgical procedure a catheter is inserted into a specific area of the heart. A special machine directs energy through the catheter to small areas of the heart muscle that causes the abnormal heart rhythm. This energy "disconnects" the pathway of the abnormal rhythm. It can also be used to disconnect the electrical pathway between the upper chambers (atria) and the lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart.
Atrial Fibrillation AblationDuring this procedure, a thin wire (catheter) is positioned inside your heart near the pulmonary veins. Radio energy applied to the tip of this catheter is used to cauterize (ablate) the heart tissue around each pulmonary vein. This electrically "disconnects" the pulmonary veins from the left atrium. As a result, the abnormal electrical signals from the pulmonary veins can no longer reach the rest of the heart and trigger Atrial Fibrillation.
An angiogram is an x-ray image of arteries and veins which is created using a contrast "dye" to check for such conditions as blood vessel narrowing or enlargement, blockages and possible leakages. The exam is performed using a catheter, a long flexible tube that is gently guided through the blood vessels with the aid of x-ray images on a monitor, or can be non-invasive using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT scan). Angiograms are commonly used for assessing blood vessel health in and around the heart, brain, kidneys and in the legs. Cardiologists perform coronary angiograms to look for blockages or other abnormalities in blood vessels in the heart. This procedure involves cardiac catheterization - the use of a catheter which is usually placed in the artery through a puncture site in the groin or arm, and then gently guided into one of the two major coronary arteries. The cardiologist then injects an iodine-based contrast through the catheter and into the artery, which will be visible when x-rays are taken. The contrast highlights blood movement through the artery, and narrowing caused by blockages can be clearly discerned.
Peripheral angiograms use the same procedure with x-rays, dye and a catheter, but are instead performed to examine the vessels to the arms, legs, kidneys, or abdomen. In the legs, blockages causing interrupted blood flow can result in cramps during walking and reduce the healing ability of foot injuries or wounds such as sores or ulcers. Decreased blood flow can also cause legs to become pale or turn slightly blue, or result in colder limbs and decreased nail and hair growth.
Our Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, or Cath Lab, provides state-of-the-art angiographic assessment of coronary artery anatomy and the flow of blood through the structures of the heart. The Cath Lab is ready 24/7 to assist a patient with life-threatening cardiac or peripheral vascular disease to quickly restore them to optimal health.
Coronary Angioplasty and Stenting These procedures help manage of blockages in arteries to the heart, legs, kidneys, and carotid arteries to the brain. Angioplasty is generally performed from the artery in the groin or arm to gain access to the blockage requiring treatment. A balloon catheter is placed over a guide wire at the site of the blockage using x-ray guidance. Once positioned, the balloon is inflated, thereby pushing the atherosclerotic material up against the vessel wall. Often, a stent, which is a metal mesh device, is used as scaffolding for the arterial wall after angioplasty. Once deployed, the stent becomes encapsulated through the addition of new lining cells within days of the procedure. Stents have reduced the incidence of recurrent blockages after balloon angioplasty.
Vascular surgery is a surgical specialty in which diseases of the vascular system, or arteries and veins, are managed by medical therapy, minimally-invasive catheter procedures, and surgical reconstruction.
Some of the procedures performed at St. Mary-Corwin include:
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