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University Health

Nonsurgical Treatments

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Call the University Health Heart & Vascular Institute at 210-644-3278.

Nonsurgical Treatments

Pioneers in Nonsurgical Heart Care

We’re proud to be at the forefront of heart care in San Antonio. Highly-trained cardiologists collaborate at University Health’s Heart and Vascular Institute to treat heart conditions in adults and children. Our cardiothoracic surgeons constantly learn and even pioneer new heart care treatments, particularly less invasive and nonsurgical procedures.

We bring innovative nonsurgical treatments such as, the transcatheter pulmonary valve procedure, that offers an alternative to repeated open heart surgeries for kids and adults with congenital heart defects.

Additionally, we pursue cutting-edge treatments and technology to ensure that we continually provide the best possible care for our patients.

Partners in Pediatric Cardiology

Pediatric heart specialists work together with physicians and surgeons at UT Health San Antonio at the Pediatric Heart Center. Our expertise means your child has access to the most advanced heart care in the region.

Most Advanced Options Available in South Texas

Cardiovascular nonsurgical treatments are used to restore and improve blood flow to your heart. In some cases, these advanced procedures may even replace more invasive open-heart surgeries.
We use a number of ablation procedures to correct problems with your heart’s rhythm.

Alcohol Septal Ablation

An alcohol septal ablation is performed to help treat patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is an inherited condition in which the heart muscle is too thick. The walls of the left and right ventricles and septum thicken in an abnormal manner – as a result the septum may push into the left ventricle and potentially block or restrict proper blood flow. This type of ablation treatment helps to reduce symptoms such as fatigue and shortness of breath. Getting treatment frequently helps to minimize the likelihood of future heart problems as well.

Atrial Fibrillation Ablation

This type of ablation is used when taking medication or other treatments aren’t successful at controlling your irregular heartbeat. An atrial fibrillation ablation procedure is performed to destroy heart tissue where faulty electrical signals originate. This helps to prevent an arrhythmia, a condition that occurs when your heart beats too quickly, too slowly or with an irregular rhythm.

Complex Atrial Arrhythmia Ablation

Prior to this type of ablation procedure, as with others, you will likely undergo a number of imaging tests so your team of cardiologists have a clear picture of your heart muscle and its chambers before the day of your scheduled complex atrial arrhythmia ablation.

During this procedure a number of soft catheters are inserted into large blood vessels in your groin or your neck and moved along toward the inner chambers of your heart. Precisely positioned, the electrode at the end of each of the catheters is used to map out the electrical activity of your heart to determine the areas of heart tissue that are causing your arrhythmia.

Each trouble spot is treated with a radio-frequency electrical current to burn out or get rid of the area or areas that are causing your abnormal heart rhythm. This is done until the arrhythmia is no longer detected.

Flutter Ablation

This procedure locates and cuts off the abnormal electrical pathway in your heart that causes your atrial fibrillation – or the quiver – in your heart’s rhythm.

Radiofrequency Ablation

This technique cuts through the abnormal electrical pathways in your heart by using “heat” transferred through the tip of a specialized catheter. The catheter is guided by either X-ray imaging or 3-D mapping.

Ventricular Tachycardia Ablation

A ventricular tachycardia ablation is used to help patients get rid of erratic electrical signals that cause your heart to beat ineffectively. For some people, the lower heart chambers don’t work properly and cause the heart to beat too fast. This type of ablation treatment helps to get your heart back into a consistent, normal heart beat again.

This type of ablation treatment isn’t suitable for all types of ventricular tachycardia. Each scenario is different and your heart specialist will recommend what is best for your unique medical circumstances.
Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)

Also called patent foramen ovale (PFO) and patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) closure.

During this corrective procedure, your doctor will insert a device in the “hole” in the walls between the different chambers of your heart where blood escapes instead of flowing along its normal route. The closure device is delivered through a small hole in your groin by a catheter.

Directional and rotational atherectomy are procedures used to remove the blockage (plaque) responsible for narrowing in your artery.

Directional Atherectomy

Our specialists use a catheter equipped with a tiny blade to remove plaque from your blocked artery. A special collection chamber on the catheter captures the plaque, and is then removed along with the device.

Rotational Atherectomy

Instead of a blade, we use a catheter with a diamond-coated tip to grind away the plaque on your artery walls. The small particles wash away safely in your bloodstream, and your liver and spleen filter them out.

Balloon Angioplasty
This single procedure, which is also called coronary angioplasty, is used to open narrowed arteries. We use a catheter with a small balloon on its tip to flatten or compress the plaque against the artery wall. In many cases, our specialists perform balloon angioplasty in combination with coronary stenting or a stent placement procedure.
Interventional Cardiac Catheterization
This treatment opens narrowed coronary arteries to improve blood flow to your heart. It can be done during a diagnostic cardiac catheterization, if we see a blockage that needs to be treated. It can also be performed after testing has confirmed you have coronary artery disease. With the catheter in place, your specialist will use one of the interventional procedures described, such as a coronary angioplasty, a coronary stenting or a coronary atherectomy.

Stent Placement
Your doctor places a small mesh, metal tube (stent) inside your artery. It supports the artery to keep it open and improve blood flow to your heart. It also reduces chest pain (angina). The stent is placed after we clear your artery of blockage (coronary angioplasty). It then becomes a permanent part of your artery.

Heart Implants
Your heart condition may respond best to one of several devices we implant for long-term treatment. We perform a number of arrhythmia device implantations and extractions when needed.

Bi-Ventricular Resynchronization Implantation

We implant pace leads into both pumping chambers of your heart to “re-synchronize” or “retime” it, so both chambers pump at the same time. This helps move blood through the heart more efficiently and deliver blood to your organs.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

This device sends an electric current through your heart. It’s used to regulate an abnormally fast heart rate that causes you to faint or your heart to pump improperly. When medicines don’t work, an ICD can be implanted under the skin.

Left Atrial Appendage Closure

The LARIAT® procedure, the specific type of procedure we use to perform a left atrial appendage closure, is a minimally invasive procedure performed to help prevent a stroke in those patients with AFib who are unable to take blood thinning medications. We insert one catheter under the patient’s rib cage and use another to guide it into place within the heart's left atrial appendage.

Once in place, the LARIAT® Suture Delivery Device tightens a loop around the base of the left atrial appendage. The loop stitch permanently seals off this tiny cavity from the rest of the heart to block blood clots from traveling to the brain. Over time, the tied-off appendage turns into scar tissue.

Mitral Valve Clipping
This is the latest available technology used to correct or reduce a severe “leaking” mitral valve. A “clip,” like a staple, fuses two sections of the mitral valve to reduce the valve opening. This allows your blood to flow through the left atrium to the left ventricle. You can have this procedure without an open-chest surgical procedure.

  1. Ahmed Almomani, MD
    Cardiology Interventional Cardiology
  2. Edward Sako, MD
    Cardiothoracic Surgery
  3. Kenneth Stone, MD
    Cardiology Echocardiography