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 doctors to tailor care for the specific needs of individual patients. Saint Francis doctors have contributed to this rapid development in interventional cardiology. Patients at the Heart Hospital at Saint Francis benefit from the complete range of state-of-the-art care. The procedures done in the cath lab are sometimes referred to as catheter-based modalities because they all employ the basic techniques of cardiac catheterization.
Cardiac catheterization is when a narrow tube, called a catheter, is inserted into an artery or vein of your leg or arm and passed through the blood vessel to your 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.