Cardiovascular Imaging and Cardiac Catheterization
Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive diagnostic and treatment option that involves passing a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) through the vessels supplying blood to the heart and injecting dye through the catheter. Interventional cardiologists use this procedure to tell how well your heart is functioning and to diagnose any possible cardiac disease or blockages. Cardiac catheterization enables doctors to:
- Determine the pressure and blood flow in the heart's chambers
- Examine the valves and blood vessels of the heart
- Identify heart abnormalities
The procedure is performed in a catheterization laboratory (also called a cath lab). During a cardiac catheterization, the interventional cardiologist uses a number of advanced cardiovascular imaging tests to assess the heart’s functioning:
- Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)uses fast-traveling light waves (instead of sound waves) to produce detailed pictures of the inside of the heart’s blood vessels.
- Fractional Flow Reserve (FFR) uses a thin wire to measure the blood pressure and blood flow through a specific part of the coronary artery. This test is used to help doctors determine the best course of treatment to help increase a healthy blood flow to the heart.
- Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS) uses a special catheter that uses sound waves to see the inside of blood vessels and arteries.
MedStar Union Memorial's Cardiac Catheterization (Cath) Lab features 7 individual labs with 24/7 staffing. The cath lab uses sophisticated, leading-edge imaging technology and implements best practices for patient care before, during and after procedures. We also participate in nationally-recognized clinical trials not available at other facilities.
Dedicated Cath Labs
In our 7 dedicated catheterization labs, we manage our patients with the most technologically advanced diagnostic tests and treatments, including angioplasty, stents, lasers, intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), Fractional Flow Reserve (FFR), brachytherapy, and other novel medical therapies.
New Hybrid Lab
Our hybrid lab is an operating room that supports complex procedures involving both cardiac catheterization and cardiac surgery. It can function independently as a cath lab or as an operating room, however, it also offers the flexibility of using fluoroscopy and catheter-based procedures simultaneously with more invasive operating room type procedures. These specialized labs enable our heart teams, including anesthesiologists, interventional cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, and cardiac imaging specialists to work as together to perform complex valvular procedures in a minimally invasive fashion to improve patient outcomes and quality of life.
The Latest Technology
The latest technology is incorporated to help our physicians rapidly evaluate patient information, whether from the Emergency Department or referring physicians to help establish the best course of therapy for our patients. This helps coordinate real-time patient care.
Cath lab physicians use this technology to work in close coordination with other Heart & Vascular Institute facilities, physician and emergency transport teams. Our labs allow for the transmission of real-time data from the field to the doctors, so they are prepared to make treatment decisions before the patient even enters the facility. This technology helps coordinate rapid transfer to our institution from anywhere in the region.