Arkansas Society of

Radiologic Technologists

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Cath Lab

Cath Lab page image

A catheterization laboratory or cath lab is an examination room in a hospital or clinic with diagnostic imaging equipment. Cardiac catheterization (heart cath) is the insertion of a catheter into a chamber or vessel of the heart through an artery or vein to visualize and treat any stenosis or abnormality found. It requires the use of fluoroscopy and radiopaque contrast to visualize the path of the catheter as it enters the heart or as it enters the coronary arteries.

Catheterization is done both for diagnostic and interventional purposes. For example, coronary angiography is a diagnostic procedure that allows the interventional cardiologist to visualize the coronary vessels.Cath Lab page image Percutaneous coronary intervention, however, involves the use of mechanical stents to increase blood flow to previously blocked (or occluded) vessels. Other common diagnostic procedures include measuring pressures throughout the four chambers of the heart and evaluating pressure differences across the major heart valves. Interventional cardiologists can also use cardiac catheterization to estimate the cardiac output, the amount of blood pumped by the heart per minute. Since 2000, most new facilities are digital.

A list of procedures carried out in a Cath Lab includes:

Indications for cardiac catheterization include the following:

  • Heart Attack (includes ST elevation MI, Non-ST Elevation MI, Unstable Angina)
  • Abnormal Stress Test
  • New-onset unexplained heart failure
  • Survival of sudden cardiac death or dangerous cardiac arrhythmia
  • Persistent chest pain despite optimal medical therapy