Cardiac Cath Lab
We understand that giving you the most comprehensive cardiac care available in this region includes having an exceptional cardiac catheterization laboratory. Completing more than 2300 cardiac procedures each year, it combines state-of-the-art technology with the friendly, individualized attention you've come to expect from St. Vincent Healthcare.
Cardiac catheterization is a diagnostic procedure used to determine the extent of heart disease, including coronary artery disease and defective heart valves. A tiny slit is made through the skin to allow insertion of a flexible catheter into an artery. Using x-ray imaging, the catheter is then carefully guided into the heart to locate any blockage. It can also measure the amount of pressure within the heart, allowing the cardiologist to evaluate pumping power and valve function. With the release of a special dye, a coronary angiogram helps detect blockage in the coronary arteries, and a left ventriculogram looks at the main pumping chamber of the heart.
Using the information gained from the cardiac catheterization, your cardiologist will work with you to create the treatment plan that will best manage your symptoms and condition.
In addition to cardiac catheterization to detect blockages and diagnose disease, the cardiologists in the cardiac catheterization laboratory perform interventional procedures that often help lessen painful symptoms and help patients avoid surgery. These include:
- Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty (PTCA) which allows your cardiologist to open narrowed arteries by inflating a small balloon at the site of any blockage.
- Coronary Artery Stenting, a procedure in which a stent is implanted within the artery to help keep it open and decrease the chance of future problems.
- Rotoblation (or rotational atherectomy), which utilizes a tiny drill to break apart the plaque in your arteries when it has hardened to the point that angioplasty cannot be completed successfully.
- Cardiac Rhythm Management, which includes the implantation of pace makers and defibrillators to manage the heart's rhythm.
The cardiac cath lab also completes peripheral or cerebral angiograms, cerebral coiling and stenting, carotid stenting, and peripheral atherectomy procedures. Pacemaker and/or implantable defibrillator implants, including bi-ventricular pacemakers for treatment of congestive heart failure, are also performed as part of our work with the St. Vincent Healthcare Vascular Center.
Preparing for Your Procedure
Your physician will discuss any specific instructions relating to your procedure with you prior to your arrival at the hospital. These may include which of your medications you should or should not take, any restrictions regarding when you should stop eating and/or drinking and any special bathing instructions.
Although each procedure is unique, most St. Vincent Healthcare cardiac catheterization patients will:
- have an intravenous drip started to deliver fluids and medications
- have the insertion area (usually the groin, leg or arm) cleaned and clipped by a nurse or other medical professional
- receive medication which will place them under conscious sedation, meaning that they will be relaxed, but not asleep, during the procedure
- feel some pressure when the catheter is inserted, but little or no pain
- possibly feel some warmth or other sensation in the chest if dye is injected as part of their treatment
- experience some discomfort when the catheter is removed and tenderness around the insertion site
Carrying a low risk of serious complication, these types of procedures take one to three hours to complete, and the patient usually goes home the same day unless additional medical care is prescribed by your cardiologist. Your activity may be somewhat restricted while you heal, and your physician will provide you with information and instructions relating to medications and follow up appointments.
Please plan on having a friend or family member drive you to and from your procedure and stay with you immediately after you return home.
Technological advances have greatly improved the way physicians are able to diagnose and treat cardiac disease. That's why St. Vincent Healthcare is committed to offering our patients the best, most accurate diagnostic tools available. In fact, we were the first hospital in this service area offering the Revo MRI™, a pacemaker allowing patients to undergo an MRI scan.
Ask your cardiologist for more information about the technology currently in use at St. Vincent Healthcare.