Difference between invasive, non-invasive and interventional cardiology

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is directly co-related to a healthy heart.

But due to changing routines and eating habits, there are times where heart problems occur. In such cases, it is the cardiologist who diagnoses the problem and treats it with the utmost care. The cardiologist performs all the necessary tests and other procedures associated with the heart while surgeries are performed by a cardiac surgeon.

There are three approaches while dealing with heart ailments: Invasive, Non-invasive, and Interventional cardiology. These are sub-specialties of cardiology and either one or a combination of these techniques can be used to treat heart ailments.

The difference:

1. Invasive:

This is a minimally invasive procedure for identifying the anomalies of the heart. Such procedures are generally minor surgeries that require breaking into the skin of the patient. These involve perforation, catheterization, incision, etc. Such procedures are used in conditions such as angioplasty (blocked arteries are opened by ballooning to increase blood flow) and stenting (a stent-thin metal needle is inserted to open a clogged vein).

Further, invasive procedures are conducted for coronary angiography, coronary artery bypass grafting, valve replacement surgery, electrophysiology studies, and arrhythmia ablation, right heart catheterization, permanent pacemaker insertion, automatic implantable cardiac defibrillators (acids), closure of cardiac defects including medication for acute chest pain. Devices used are usually laparoscopic and remote controlled for these procedures.

2. Non-invasive:

This procedure is non-invasive and usually comprises external tests rather than any insertion of fluids, needles, or other such instruments in the body for diagnosing heart disorders, cardiovascular diseases, or other cardiac conditions. This specialty usually prevents further complications of the heart. In all, it does not involve any breakage of skin or body parts.

These procedures are as simple as listening to a heartbeat, taking a pulse and blood pressure along with the instruments being non-invasive to perform such tasks. This evaluation is also useful in cases where patients are suspected of having a valve disease, chest pain, or another history of heart ailments.

Further conditions treated in this manner are:

Nuclear cardiology, echocardiography (to identify pumping of blood, infections, or any structural abnormalities), cardiac electrophysiology (electrical currents for generating and evaluating heartbeats), exercise treadmill stress tests (how one performs under stress), holter – heart monitors, echocardiogram, trans-esophageal echocardiogram, myocardial perfusion scan and CT scans (for diseases of the heart and atherosclerosis).

In most of these procedures, imaging using ultrasound waves, tape recorders, or electrical currents are used to monitor the heart’s activity. Infrared imaging, electrocardiography, and other testing systems are also used which are completely harmless.

3. Interventional:

These cardiologists perform interventional actions/treating of serious heart ailments to ensure that blood is delivered to the heart and subsequently to other parts of the body. This approach makes use of a small catheter that is used to repair arteries or vessels or other parts of the heart’s surrounding areas i.e. treatment of structural heart diseases.

The father of interventional cardiology is known to be Andreas Gruentzig after he created the coronary balloon angioplasty method. Sometimes, angioplasty and stenting could be referred to as interventional procedures as they are catheter-based and require the action of opening blocked arteries.

Other conditions treated by this method are:

Coronary artery disease (narrowing of arteries), heart valve disease (valves not functioning well with regards to blood flow), peripheral vascular disease (clogged or hard arteries, and veins), pericardiocenteses, transesophageal echocardiograms, and plaque removal (atherectomy). Invasive and interventional cardiology is closely related to where cardiologists work on similar techniques to address the patient’s ailment.

The community of cardiologists performs an array of cardiology activities while making a difference in the health of the heart and ultimately – life.

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