Heart care procedures and diagnostic tools

Whether you begin your heart care with us or have your primary care provider refer you to our care, you will be confident in knowing that our expert teams provide a variety of procedures to diagnose and treat your heart and vascular conditions.

Heart care procedures and tools

Balloon valvuloplasty

UI Heart and Vascular Center physicians began using percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty to open heart valves with a catheter before any other hospital in Iowa. This innovative technique is less invasive and has important advantages over conventional approaches, reduces procedure time, provides great control of valve dilation, and shows marked improvement in patient comfort during the procedure.

Cardiac catheterization

The Cardiac Catheterization Lab offers a wide variety of heart catheterization and angiography services, which determine the anatomy and function of a patient's heart. These include angioplasty, coronary stents, laser angioplasty, and balloon valvuloplasty.

Cardiac nuclear imaging/positron emission tomography (PET)

This tool is used to diagnose coronary artery disease, assess myocardial viability in patients being considered for revascularization (percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty - PTCA or coronary artery bypass surgery - CABG), and to assess ventricular function.

Cardiac resynchronization therapy

UI heart researchers are evaluating new methods for placing implantable cardiac resynchronization (CRT) devices in heart failure patients. CRT devices, such as biventricular pacemakers, use electrical stimulation to synchronize and strengthen the heart beat and improving the flow of blood from the heart.


Instead of open-heart surgery, UI Heart and Vascular Center specialists use this revolutionary 40-minute procedure to repair holes in the heart. Cardiologists thread a miniature "folded umbrella" device along a catheter up the artery and into the heart where the "umbrella" is opened to seal the hold. Patients are generally able to return home the next day.

Cardiovascular and interventional radiology

Our specialists provide chest imaging services, plus CT and MR cardiovascular imaging, for patients in all University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics surgical, cardiac, and medical intensive care units. Our facilities include three state-of-the-art spiral CT scanners with CT fluoroscopy, plus an Electron Beam CT scanner and three MRI scanners.

Cardiovascular and MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (also known as MRI) is a type of scan that uses a large, powerful magnet, radio waves and a computer to provide detailed images of various internal structures, such as bones, organs, blood vessels and other soft tissues.


UI Heart and Vascular Center physicians are the first in Iowa to use this new technique to correct abnormal heartbeats. This procedure involves the use of sub-zero temperatures to destroy cells that cause abnormal heartbeats. The advantage is that only the tissue causing the abnormal heartbeat is affected, leaving the surrounding normal tissue untouched. Fewer patients are likely to need a pacemaker following this type of ablation.


The cardiologists and sonographers from this laboratory specialize in heart ultrasound, using state-of-the-art equipment to provide a full range of echocardiography services for inpatients and outpatients.


Electrophysiologists evaluate and treat patients for cardiac rhythm disturbances using pacemakers, internal cardiac defibrillators, invasive study techniques, and ablation therapy. We perform everything from simple electrophysiology studies, device implantations including biventricular implants, to simple and complex ablation procedures.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation program (ECMO)

ECMO is prolonged partial heart-lung bypass for selected critically ill patients with severe but reversible respiratory failure and/or cardiac disease who have failed other intensive care therapies.

Magnetic-guided catheterization

UI Heart and Vascular Center specialists are among the first in the world to use a magnetic guidance system to treat patients with coronary artery disease and heart rhythm problems. Physicians navigate a magnetically tipped catheter through the arteries with great precision, accessing hard-to-reach blood vessels and treating rhythm problems in the chamber of the heart.

Transmyocardial laser revascularization

Innovative laser technology is helping reduce chest pain for patients with debilitating angina related to inadequate blood flow to the heart. This procedure involves using a laser to drill between 40 and 45 holes in the left ventricle, allowing more oxygenated blood to flow through the heart muscle, reducing angina.

Transradial catheterization

When looking for blockages in the heart, doctors have traditionally used the groin to insert a catheter (a long plastic tube) into the heart arteries. Recovery from the procedure required the patient to lie flat for several hours to make sure there was no bleeding from the site. Doctors now can insert the catheter through the wrist instead of the groin and use a small pressure band to control bleeding from the site. That means a quicker recovery, less discomfort, and less bleeding.

Treadmill stress testing

Treadmill stress testing diagnoses problems, assess heart function, and evaluate the effectiveness of anti-angina and heart failure therapy.

Last reviewed: 
October 2018

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