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Welcome to the Cardiac Catheterization Lab


Sometimes, to get an accurate idea of how well your heart is working, medical staff must perform some specialized tests. These tests involve inserting thin tubes, called catheters, into arteries inside your body where they can travel toward your heart. Once they are in place, these catheters can measure factors such as:

  • How much oxygen is in your blood
  • How well your heart is pumping
  • The regularity of your heartbeats

Medical staff use the same equipment to treat cardiovascular conditions as well. Coronary angioplasty involves using a catheter with an inflatable balloon on the end to open up a clogged artery, while cardiac stenting uses catheters to implant “braces” that will hold weakened arteries open to help your blood flow correctly.

A Special Environment

All these procedures need to be performed in a particular area of the hospital called the Cardiac Catheterization Lab, or “Cath Lab” for short. This specially dedicated area of the hospital is part diagnostic testing facility, part operating room, and is designed to create an environment that focuses on safety and lifesaving results. Cath Labs are divided into two separate rooms.

The Examination Room

In the main room, you will lie on a well-equipped examination table while the procedure is performed. This room will be slightly different at every hospital but is always large enough to hold necessary equipment:

  • Cabinets: Generally all of the equipment needed for a cardiac catheterization or similar procedure is stored in the cardiac catheterization lab itself. The cabinets will hold tools like:
    • Catheters
    • Sheaths (tools used to insert catheters into arteries)
    • Balloons
    • Stents
    • Guide wires
  • Exam table: Similar to a traditional exam table, this table provides you with a place to lie during the procedure. The staff will give you instructions, and you will be given a sedative to help you relax.
  • C-arm and X-ray equipment: X-rays will be taken constantly during the procedure so that medical technicians can see the catheter as it travels through your arteries. The X-ray equipment is connected to a “c-arm,” which moves so the X-ray equipment can pass over top and around your body as needed to produce desired images.
  • Monitors: Cath labs have several computer monitors that display data for the technicians. The monitors will display the X-ray images as well as other information.

The Control Room

Much like an airport, cardiac catheterization labs have control rooms where diagnostic and other medical experts have a dedicated space to view the procedure. The control room is an information center filled with staff and computers that display the X-ray images as they are being taken and monitor your vital signs while the test is being performed. The control room exists to make the procedures as safe as possible and to give expert staff a place to view the procedures, provide feedback, and otherwise backup the team members who perform the procedures.

For a little more about cardiac catheterization, its uses, and a quick tour of a cardiac catheterization lab, take a minute to watch this physician video from Kendall Regional Medical Center.

For more information on available cardiovascular tests or to schedule a diagnostic exam in Miami, Fort Lauderdale or anywhere else in South Florida, please Consult-A-Nurse® by calling 1-866-442-2362 or visit HCA East Florida online.


American Heart Association

Cath Lab Digest

Coronary Heart Health


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About HCA East Florida

Building a Healthy Community -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- In communities across South Florida and the Treasure Coast, more than 12,000 of your neighbors, friends and colleagues are committed to building a Healthy Community – a community with dedicated neighborhood groups, active little leagues, charities helping those in need, firstclass institutions that contribute to the overall well-being of the community, and businesses committed to making the communities they serve a better place. A National Presence -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HCA’s roots date back to the 1960s when Dr. Thomas Frist, Sr. led a group of physicians to build a hospital in Nashville,Tennessee. Close to four decades of hard work and dedication have made HCA – Hospital Corporation of America – the nation’s leading provider of quality healthcare services, with locally managed facilities that include approximately 191 hospitals and 82 outpatient surgery centers in 23 states, England and Switzerland. In Florida, there are 40 hospitals and 28 surgery centers, three division offices, and multiple other service facilities affiliated with HCA that employ close to 40,000 individuals. HCA affiliated facilities in East Florida are a part of a quality healthcare network in East Florida and the Treasure Coast with 12 affiliated hospitals, 12 surgery centers, one integrated regional lab and one consolidated service center. Together, the network employs more than 12,500 individuals and has close to 6,000 physicians on staff. A Commitment to Excellence -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hospitals have become the front line of healthcare in our country, creating demands never seen before. Technology, a growing and ever-changing part of healthcare, has pushed the boundaries of how care is provided and the expectations of those receiving care. Providing high quality and cost effective healthcare requires a constant upgrade of our facilities and the technology within the facilities. Whether it is an expanded Emergency Room or the latest imaging technology, our commitment to excellence is unwavering. Excellence is achieved when excellence is expected. HCA affiliated East Florida hospitals expect and are committed to excellence. A Clear Vision -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HCA’s corporate mission and values statement says it best: Above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life. In recognition of this commitment, we strive to deliver high quality, cost effective healthcare in the communities we serve. HCA East Florida and its 12 affiliate hospitals are proud to be living up to that commitment. Recognized Leaders -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The benchmark for quality and leadership is found in the men and women who make up HCA East Florida network of hospitals. It is the caring touch of a physician, the friendly smile of a volunteer, the compassion of a nurse, the professionalism of a technician or the willingness to help of an office clerk. It is the excellence of the individual that has made HCA affiliated hospitals in East Florida recognized leaders in the communities they serve. HCA’s affiliate hospitals consistently appear among the Top 100 Hospitals and receive outstanding ratings from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. They receive 5 star ratings from Healthgrades, Inc. and recognition from the Leapfrog Group for Patient Safety. More importantly, our patient and physician satisfaction surveys consistently prove that the HCA affiliated East Florida hospitals are recognized leaders in the delivery of quality healthcare. The 12 HCA East Florida affiliate hospitals provided in excess of $ 800 million in care to the neediest without any compensation. In addition, we have implemented a comprehensive charitable care policy that provides financial relief to more of our charity patients and needs-based discounts to uninsured patients. One of the biggest challenges faced by the healthcare industry is the shortage of qualified healthcare professionals, especially Registered Nurses. Recognizing the challenge, we established scholarship programs at Palm Beach Community College, Broward Community College, Miami Dade College and Florida International University. The active involvement of HCA affiliated hospitals in the community will continue through our support of major initiatives as well as our active leadership and participation in a variety of organizations that promote the social and economic wellbeing of our community and embrace our cultural diversity. If an initiative or organization is looking to build a Healthy Community, you’re likely to find someone from an HCA affiliated East Florida hospital actively involved. “Healthy Community - A Community Initiative of the East Florida hospitals affiliated with HCA.” The terms “HCA” or the “Company” as used herein refer to HCA Inc. and its affiliates, unless otherwise stated or indicated by context. The terms “facilities,” “hospitals,” “medical centers,” “surgery centers” and “affiliates” refer to entities owned or operated by subsidiaries or affiliates of HCA Inc. References herein to “HCA employees” or to “our employees” refer to employees of affiliates or subsidiaries of HCA Inc.
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