Chicago Cardiology Institute provides a full range of procedures and treatments.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlargement due to the weakening of vessel walls in the lower part of the aorta, a major blood vessel that runs from the heart through the abdomen. If the aneurysm ruptures, it can cause life-threatening internal bleeding.

Treatment depends on the size of the aneurysm and the rate at which it is growing. A small aneurism may only need to be monitored with ultrasound. If the aneurysm is larger, fast-growing or leaking, surgery may be required. Endovascular surgery uses a catheter to place synthetic material within the weakened blood vessel to reinforce the vessel walls and prevent a rupture. Another option is open-abdominal surgery, which involves the removal and replacement of the damaged part of the vessel with a synthetic tube.

Cardiac Catheterization, Angioplasty, Stenting

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive procedure used to diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions. A long, thin tube called a catheter is inserted into an artery or vein and threaded through the blood vessels to the heart. Diagnostic tests and some procedures can then be performed with the help of the catheter.

Cardiac catheterization is often used to locate blockages or heart defects. If a blockage is discovered, a procedure called angioplasty may be performed. Your cardiologist will place a tiny balloon at the site of the blockage and gently widen the narrowed artery by expanding the balloon. A small metal coil called a stent may then be implanted in the clogged artery to help keep it open.

Heart Valve Surgery

Heart valve surgery is used to treat problems with one or more of the heart’s four valves—the aortic, mitral, pulmonary and tricuspid valves. These valves keep blood flowing through the heart in the proper direction, and if any are diseased or not working properly, surgery can be used to repair or replace the affected valves. Although open-heart surgery always involves some risk, improved technology and surgical techniques mean that almost all heart valve repair and replacement surgeries are successful at prolonging and improving quality of life, with few complications.

Electrophysiology

Deals with diagnosing and treating arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats or rhythms). Arrhythmias occur when the electrical impulses that coordinate the heartbeat don’t work normally—the heart may beat too fast, too slow, or in an unusual pattern. This could render the heart incapable of pumping enough blood to the entire body. Arrhythmia can be treated with medication, surgery or an implanted device.

Catheter ablation is a procedure used to treat an arrhythmia when abnormal heart tissue is the cause. A catheter is threaded through the blood vessels to the heart, and then heat or extreme cold is applied to abnormal heart tissue in order to ablate (destroy) areas that are triggering the abnormal heart rhythm. This ablation allows electrical signals to travel over a normal pathway instead, stopping the arrhythmia.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common kind of arrhythmia characterized by an irregular, often rapid heartbeat that causes poor blood flow to the body. During atrial fibrillation, the two upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly and out-of-synch with the two lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles). Patients with AF have a significantly increased risk of stroke.

The left atrial appendix (LAA) is the most common site of thrombosis (the clotting that causes a stroke) in patients with AF. It can easily be “excluded” or sealed off from the patient’s circulation system at the time of cardiac surgery by excision, ligation, suturing or stapling, to reduce future risk of stroke from a blood clot traveling from the LAA to the brain.

A pacemaker is a small device implanted under the skin near the heart. Pacemakers are typically used to treat arrhythmias that originate in the upper chambers of the heart (the atria). The device emits electrical pulses that encourage the heart to beat at a normal rate. It can speed up a show heartbeat, control a fast heartbeat and coordinate the chambers of the heart.

A cardioverter-defibrillator (also called an ICD) is another device that can be implanted in the chest. An ICD continuously monitors the heartbeat and if it senses a dangerous rhythm, it delivers electrical shocks in order to restore a normal heartbeat. ICDs are typically used when the two lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles) are not working properly, which could occur in conditions like ventricular tachycardia (a dangerously fast heartbeat) or ventricular fibrillation (a chaotic heartbeat that doesn’t allow the heart to supply sufficient blood to the rest of the body).

A patent foramen ovale (PFO) is an opening between the upper right and left chambers of the heart that is normal and necessary during fetal development, but sometimes fails to close after birth. An atrial septal defect (ASD) is also a condition present from birth that causes an opening in the wall between the two upper chambers of the heart.

Although PFOs are generally less serious, ASDs may cause problems like arrhythmia, increased risk of stroke, heart failure and pulmonary hypertension (increased blood pressure in the arteries of the lung).

Both PFOs and ASDs can be repaired through cardiac catheterization, wherein a specialist inserts a device designed to close the opening. Alternatively, the PFO or ASD may be repaired with surgery to patch or stitch the opening closed.

Cardioversion is a procedure used to restore a normal heartbeat in patients with certain kinds of arrhythmia, such as tachycardia (a heartbeat that is too fast) or fibrillation (a heartbeat that is irregular). It is usually used to treat atrial fibrillation.

Cardioversion is performed by using electrodes placed on the chest to send electric shocks to the heart. This procedure is normally performed in a hospital, and patients are usually able to go home the same day. For most patients, cardioversion safely restores a normal heart rhythm.

Vein Treatment

Self-care is very important when it comes to varicose veins and spider veins. Wearing compression stockings throughout the day is often a first approach to treatment. Compression stockings squeeze the legs, helping the veins move blood back up the legs to the heart more efficiently. We also advise patients to:

  • exercise regularly
  • avoid tight clothing
  • elevate the legs while at rest
  • avoid long periods of standing or sitting
  • lose weight if the patient is overweight

If self-care and compression stockings are not sufficient to treat the problem, there are a number of minimally invasive, non-surgical procedures that may help.

  • Sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy is commonly used for spider veins and small varicose veins. The procedure involves injecting a small amount of a solution (a sclerosing agent) directly into the diseased vein. The sclerosing agent damages the lining of the vein and causes it to seal shut. This completely eliminates the diseased vein. Sclerotherapy is performed quickly and with no anesthesia at our office.
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy. During this procedure, a surgeon will make multiple incisions to remove the vein one portion at a time. Ambulatory phlebectomy is a more permanent solution than sclerotherapy and offers a lower rate of recurrence.

Endovenous Laser Therapy (also called endovenous laser ablation) is a minimally invasive treatment that uses laser energy to seal off varicose veins, diverting blood flow immediately to nearby healthy veins.

During endovenous laser therapy, a thin laser fiber is inserted via a catheter into the diseased vein, generally through a small puncture in the skin above the affected area. A device delivers laser energy through the fiber;as the specialist gradually removes it, the laser energy causes the vein to collapse and blood flow to cease. Endovenous laser therapy can be performed in a doctor’s office in under an hour. The procedure is minimally invasive and the patient is encouraged to begin walking immediately afterward.

Radiofrequency ablation is similar to endovenous laser ablation, but uses heat generated by radiofrequency to seal off faulty blood vessels. A catheter is inserted through the skin and positioned within the abnormal vein. Your doctor will then insert a radiofrequency electrode through the catheter and position it at the desired location. By applying radiofrequency energy, the blood vessel can be heated and will close off following the procedure.