Skip to main content

Heart problems can arise in different parts of the heart. There can be problems with structure of the heart, such as heart valves, or in the small blood vessels in the heart itself (the coronary arteries), or there can be problems with the electrical system in the heart, which result in irregular heart beats (arrythmias).

If you have been diagnosed with structural heart disease, it means an abnormality has been found in in the heart's structures, such as the valves, chambers, or the major blood vessels entering or leaving the heart. Your doctor may recommend that you undergo a cath lab procedure to investigate or treat these problems.

A cath lab is a specialist facility where doctors use advanced equipment to perform procedures on the heart and blood vessels. These procedures are called catheterisations. They are used to diagnose and treat various heart conditions. During a catheterisation, a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted through a small incision in a blood vessel in the groin or arm, and guided to the heart. This allows doctors to get an internal image of the heart and blood vessels. They can then perform treatments such as stent placements, angioplasties, and valve repairs. 

Some common structural procedures performed in the cath labs at Blackrock Health include:

  • Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI): This is a minimally invasive procedure. A prosthetic valve is implanted to replace the aortic valve. This is typically for patients with severe aortic stenosis.
  • Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair (MitraClip): This is a minimally invasive procedure. A clip is placed on the mitral valve to repair a leaky valve or improve its function.
  • Septal Defect Closure: This procedure closes a hole in the heart between the two upper or lower chambers. This is typically for patients with atrial or ventricular septal defects.

The cath lab teams use catheterisation to perform the above interventions. Advanced imaging techniques are in place for guidance. These can be fluoroscopy, echocardiography, and intravascular ultrasound.  The team includes interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, nurses, and physiologists.

At Blackrock Health, we have some of Ireland's most respected cardiologists, and cardiac & vascular surgeons on our team. The Blackrock Clinic, in particular, has a long history of pioneering the newest heart treatments and procedures. Our three hospitals, the Blackrock, Galway, and Hermitage Clinics, ensure best practice in care. We provide minimally invasive treatments and the latest technology as well as traditional techniques. Blackrock Health also offers fast access to the five cath labs in our three hospitals. We provide the most accurate diagnostics and effective care plan possible, with the least possible delay. We offer easy access to our teams of consultants and clinical experts and are committed to helping you achieve optimal heart and vascular health. 

Our Interventional Cardiology team provides minimally invasive procedures for your heart using catheters. Our cath labs perform common procedures by accessing your heart through blood vessels with catheters. These treatments can improve heart function and have a lower risk compared to traditional open surgery. We have a skilled team of consultants, surgeons, nurses, and physiologists dedicated to providing the best possible care. 

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI)

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) is a minimally invasive procedure. It is used to replace a narrowed aortic valve without open-heart surgery. Your cardiology team might recommend this treatment for you if you have a high risk of complications from open-heart surgery.

The aortic valve is the main valve that regulates blood flow out of the heart and into the aorta. The aorta is the largest artery in the body. When this valve becomes narrowed or blocked, it can lead to a condition called aortic stenosis. This can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. In severe cases, aortic stenosis can lead to heart failure.

A TAVI procedure involves positioning a replacement valve inside the diseased aortic valve. The replacement valve pushes aside the old valve and takes over the function of regulating blood flow out of the heart.

TAVI is performed under local anaesthetic and conscious sedation. It usually takes a few hours to complete. The procedure is less invasive than traditional open-heart surgery. It generally involves less pain, fewer complications, and a shorter recovery time.

TAVI is usually recommended for patients who have severe aortic stenosis. It may be an option for patients who are not suitable for open-heart surgery.

Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair – MitraClip

Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair (TMVR) is a minimally invasive procedure. It is used to treat mitral valve regurgitation. This is a condition in which blood flows backwards through the mitral valve. The MitraClip device is one of the most used devices for TMVR. This is a small metal clip with two arms.

During the procedure, the clip is positioned on the mitral valve, and the arms of the clip are then closed. This causes the valve to tighten, reducing the amount of blood that flows backward.

The procedure is usually performed under general anaesthetic. The procedure takes several hours. Patients are usually able to return home the following day.

TMVR is a safer and more effective treatment option for patients who are not candidates for traditional surgery. It can also improve the quality of life for patients with conditions related to mitral valve regurgitation.

Closure of Cardiac Defects

Some patients have a defect or opening in the wall of the heart, a so-called hole-in-the-heart. As a result, blood can flow abnormally from one heart chamber to another. These defects or holes can be closed using open heart or minimally invasive techniques. These defects can be present at birth (congenital) or can develop later in life due to various factors.

Closures are performed in Blackrock Health's Cath Labs by our Interventional Cardiology teams. They are minimally invasive techniques using catheters to access the heart through blood vessels. The catheter is guided to the affected area of the heart, and the defect is corrected. Various techniques are used, such as balloon angioplasty, stent placement, or closure devices.

Closure of cardiac defects can improve heart function and reduce the risk of complications. The success of the procedure depends on various factors. These can include the type and severity of the defect, the patient's health, and the experience of the medical team. Blackrock Health’s Interventional Cardiology teams bring a depth of experience to our patients. They are fully trained in the use of the latest technologies and work in dedicated facilities.

How do I get this?

You will need a referral letter from your GP or consultant before you make an appointment.

Is this insured?

Not all services are covered by health insurance. To find out if you're covered, please check your health insurance before your visit. You can do this on our health insurance cover check page, or by contacting your health insurer. 

How do I pay?

If you do not have health insurance or your health plan does not cover the full cost, you will need to pay the balance due before your treatment or procedure. You may be able to claim back some fees on your insurance. To pay an excess not covered by your insurance or any other inpatient fees, please visit our payment page. If you have any queries about paying for your care, please contact the finance team in your hospital.

Available at:
  • Blackrock Clinic
  • Galway Clinic
  • Hermitage Clinic

Blackrock Clinic

Rock Road, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, A94E4X7
Procedures on the Structure of the Heart

Galway Clinic

Doughiska Galway, Galway H91HHT0
Procedures on the Structure of the Heart

Hermitage Clinic

Old Lucan Road, Dublin, D20 W722
Procedures on the Structure of the Heart