Cardiac Catheterization Labs

Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center is equipped with two state-of-the-art cath labs where our interventional cardiologists diagnose and treat patients with heart and vascular issues, such as narrowing or blockage of arteries.

Cardiac catheterization is a general term for a group of procedures that are performed using a catheterization method, such as coronarty angiography, angioplasty and stenting in the legs.

Once the catheter is in place, it can be used to perform a number of procedures, including angioplasty and PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) angiography. Some of these procedures include:

  • coronary angiography (coronary catherization)
  • coronary angioplasty or PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention)
  • permanent and temporary pacemaker implantations
  • atherectomy (plaque removal) of heavily calcified vessels
  • left and right-sided pressure studies
  • peripheral angiography and intervention
  • IVUS (intravascular ultrasound technology)
  • FFR (fractional flow reserve)

Each cath lab procedure is conducted by a full team of specialists to ensure the highest quality of care. This team includes an intervenational cardiologist, a radiology technologist who specializes in cardiovascular care, and a registered nurse who specializes in critical/cardiovascular care.


Coronary Angioplasty

Coronary angioplasty is one of the most widely used interventional therapies for opening artery blockages, is performed in the cath lab to widen blood vessels around the heart that have become blocked with plaque deposits. This is from a condition called atherosclerosis, which occurs when excess cholesterol in a person’s bloodstream leads to plaque forming along the inside of the blood vessels. The plaque develops over time and prevents proper blood flow to the heart.

Coronary angioplasty is done by threading a catheter (thin tube) through a small puncture in a leg or arm artery to the heart. The blocked artery is opened by inflating a tiny balloon in it. You are normally awake but sedated during the procedure.


Peripheral Angioplasty

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when arteries narrow and reduce blood flow to the extremities. The most notable symptom is leg pain when walking. If you have PAD or other peripheral vascular issue, peripheral angioplasty may be needed.

Peripheral angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure a cardiologist performs in the cath lab under local anesthesia, much like coronary angioplasty. During the procedure, a tiny incision is made, and through it, a catheter is inserted to reach the blocked artery. A balloon is then inflated inside the artery to open the clog. If needed, a stent (a mesh-like wire tube) may also be implanted to help keep the artery open.


Peripheral Atherectomy 

Peripheral atherectomy is a procedure that requires similar techniques to those used in peripheral angioplasty. The major difference is that in atherectomy, special tools are used to remove calcified plaque buildup from the artery wall of a blood vessel. Peripheral atherectomy is particularly useful for treating artery blockage that occurs around artery branches or in vessels that cannot be treated with stents.


Venous Ablation

Venous ablation is a laser treatment for chronic venous insufficiency (also called CVI or venous reflux), a condition that affects the circulation of blood in the lower extremities.

CVI happens when the tiny valves in your veins that normally force blood back towards the heart no longer work properly. Blood starts to pool in the legs (varicose veins), and if this goes untreated, it eventually can cause more serious medical problems such as phlebitis (swelling and inflammation of a vein) or leg ulcers.

In the venous ablation procedure, a thin catheter is inserted into the saphenous vein (the main superficial vein) through a small skin puncture. Laser heat is then is directed toward the affected vessel through the catheter. The laser closes off the problem veins, which helps the visible varicose veins go down in size. Because only superficial veins are targeted, the blood redirects into the deep vein system without affecting blood flow in the leg.


Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS) 

In Saint Mary’s cardiology cath labs, IVUS, or intravascular ultrasound technology, is available. It allows physicians to see vessels from inside, and for physicians to gain more precise images and measurements for determining if and where a stent should be placed.


Fractional Flow Reserve (FFR)

Fractional Flow Reserve, or FFR, is another advanced technology available in Saint Mary’s cath lab. FFR is a guide-wire based tool that can accurately measure blood flow, and helps to access the several of a lesion in a vessel.