We perform a wide variety of procedures in our Cardiac Catheterisation Units including:

  • coronary angiography
  • coronary angioplasty
  • intravascular ultrasound
  • pressure wire studies
  • ablation
  • pacemaker insertion
  • Internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD) insertion

All consultant outcomes for angioplasty are reported publicly at www.bcis.org.uk.

What is interventional cardiology?

This involves treating heart disease without using invasive surgery. The procedures usually involve inserting thin, hollow flexible tubes called catheters into a small incision in the wrist or groin and are normally performed without the need for anaesthetic.

Your consultant may undertake a diagnostic procedure called an angiogram which looks at the blood vessels in your heart to check that they are functioning correctly. This procedure is carried out at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospitals by all of our consultant cardiologists. If any vessels are found to be blocked, you may need to undertake a procedure called an angioplasty during which a stent is inserted into the blocked blood vessel to open up the narrowing and allow the blood to flow normally again. This procedure is only carried out at Tunbridge Wells Hospital and will be performed by one of our three interventional consultant cardiologists (Dr Harrington, Dr Lawson and Dr Mishra).

What are arrhythmias?

Arrhythmias are disturbances in cardiac (heart) rhythm and are very common. There are many different types of arrhythmia, including simple extra beats and more sustained rapid beats. Disturbances of rhythm can also sometimes cause slow heart beats. The symptoms experienced are varied. Some people may notice simple ‘skips and jumps’, others rapid heart beats. Sometimes dizziness or less commonly blackouts may occur.

We run specialist arrhythmia clinics at Maidstone Hospital. These are undertaken by consultant cardiologists known as electrophysiologists who specialise in treating patients with arrhythmia and they are supported by a specialist nurse. Arrhythmia may be treated with medication but if this is not successful, there are other treatments that may be recommended.

  • Direct current cardioversion (DCCV) – this is a procedure that uses electric current to shock the heart and restore normal rhythm. Two electrode pads are placed on the chest and are connected to a machine which delivers a shock to your heart. You will have a mild anaesthetic prior to this and will then have a short period of monitoring and recovery before going home the same day.
  • Electrophysiology (EP) Ablation – during an EP Ablation, the electrophysiologist will thread special electrode catheters (long, thin, flexible wires) to the heart, normally through the groin area. Once it is determined which area of the heart is responsible for the arrhythmia, a special wire carrying radiofrequency energy is used to cauterize the site. This procedure normally only takes a couple of hours to complete and you will be able to go home the same day.
  • Pacemaker Insertion – this is a procedure where is small electrical device called a pacemaker is implanted just under the skin near the collarbone, on the left side of your chest. The pacemaker sends regular electrical pulses that help keep your heart beating regularly. Having a pacemaker implanted is a relatively straightforward process which is usually carried out under local anaesthetic which means that you will be awake during the procedure. You will normally be able to go home the same day but some procedures may require an overnight stay.
  • Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) Insertion – an ICD is a device similar to a pacemaker. This sends a larger electrical shock to the heart which essentially reboots the heart to get it pumping again.