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In the past, hospitals used cardiac catheterization labs for a very limited number of procedures. Today, our modern "cath" lab is home to a wide array of diagnostic and treatment techniques.
The Charles and Mabel E. Conklin Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory
In the past, hospitals used cardiac catheterization labs for a very limited number of procedures, primarily studies of blood flow and pressure in the heart, visualization of the coronary arteries and balloon angioplasty. Today, the modern cardiac "cath" lab is home to a wide variety of diagnostic and treatment techniques that allow the doctor to tailor care for the very specific needs of individual patients. Saint Francis doctors have contributed to this rapid development in interventional cardiology. Patients at the Saint Francis Hospital & Health Center Cardiac Catheterization Lab benefit from a range of state-of-the-art care.
Cardiac catheterization is when a narrow tube, called a catheter, is inserted into an artery or vein of the leg or arm and passed through the blood vessel to the heart or the heart's circulation. Passage of the catheter is monitored by a special x-ray camera called a fluoroscope. The fluoroscope can also be used to record the flow of a radiopaque dye through the heart, coronary vessels and large vessels that supply blood to the heart and circulation.
Hemodynamics is the study of blood flow, pressure and cardiac output. During this evaluation, the catheter is positioned in a heart chamber or one of the "great" vessels of the body to record pressure changes during the cardiac cycle, resistance to flow through the valves or blood vessels and the amount of blood that is pumped out of the left ventricle during each cardiac cycle
Coronary arteriography is the definitive diagnostic test for coronary artery disease. However, it is only used when the chances of heart disease are fairly high. Coronary arteriography is described as an "invasive" (entering into an artery or vein) procedure, which carries certain risks. Also called angiography, it involves injection of a dye into the aorta and the coronary circulation. X-ray pictures of the arteries show any obstruction to the flow of dye. The x-ray pictures also help determine how many vessels are affected, where the obstructing lesions are located and how severe the obstruction is.
Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
The transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is an alternative means of producing echocardiograms of the heart.
There are advantages of the TEE. First, TEE is useful in patients in whom adequate echo images cannot be obtained by the standard echo techniques (most often because their chest walls are particularly thick, or because they have emphysema.) Since the sound waves during TEE do not have to pass through the chest wall or the lungs, good echo images are obtainable in virtually all patients.
Cardioversion is a brief procedure where an electrical shock is delivered to the heart to convert an abnormal heart rhythm back to a normal rhythm. Most elective or "non-emergency" cardioversions are performed to treat atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, benign heart rhythm disturbances originating in the upper chambers (atria) of the heart. Cardioversion is also used in emergency situations to correct a rapid abnormal rhythm associated with faintness, low blood pressure, chest pain, difficulty breathing, or loss of consciousness.
Although it weighs just about an ounce, a pacemaker contains a powerful battery, electronic circuits and computer memory that together generate electronic signals. The signals, or pacing pulses, are carried along thin, insulated wires, or leads, to the heart muscle. The signals cause the heart muscle to begin the contractions that cause a heartbeat.
A pacemaker is implanted just below the collarbone in a procedure that takes about two hours. It is programmed to stimulate the heart at a pre-determined rate, and settings can be adjusted at any time. Routine evaluation, sometimes even via telephone, ensures the pacemaker is working properly and monitors battery life, which generally runs from five to ten years.