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Cardiac Catheterization
Pioneering work avoids invasive surgery

Cardiac catheterization, the fundamental diagnostic test used by heart doctors around the world, was invented at Columbia University. The test involves injecting dye into a patient's coronary arteries to see where the arteries may be blocked. The traveling dye may be seen on an angiogram (a type of x-ray), enabling surgeons to find the blockages and determine whether the patient needs treatment with stents, angioplasty or even coronary bypass surgery. Catheterization, which can also be used to evaluate pressures in the chambers of the heart and lungs, is the key tool in determining pulmonary hypertension.

"The concept of catheterization was born here," said Columbia's Dr. Eric Rose, associate dean for Translational Research and chair of the Department of Surgery, adding that animal research allowed the idea to become an applicable technique.

Nearly four decades later, Columbia is still working to improve and expand the use of catheterization technology. Columbia scientists are perfecting ways to repair the heart's mitral valve without invasive surgery. Inserting a catheter device into the left side of the heart allows surgeons to repair the mitral valve with an "e-valve", without even going into an operating room. The e-valve, developed at Columbia, is now in clinical testing.

Non-invasive surgery is a vital advance for children, too. Columbia is a world leader in pediatric cardiac disease and treatment. Here, malformations and congenital heart lesions in a child's pulmonary valve can be treated with a catheter, eliminating the need for traumatic open-chest surgery.

Columbia now has a new group of interventional cardiologists who will be focusing on procedures and treatments for adults, bringing the university to the forefront in this field.
© 2005 Columbia University