Our Cardiac Catheterization Lab (Cath Lab) performs more than 4,200 diagnostic catheterizations and 1,200 interventional procedures each year.

We offer a variety of diagnostic procedures that provide information about your heart or lungs, blood vessels that feed these organs, and your heart valves and aorta. This information helps your doctors make decisions about your care and treatment. Our interventional procedures correct problems in your heart that are discovered during a diagnostic procedure.

Diagnostic Procedures

Left Heart Catheterization and Coronary Angiography (LHCC): You will most likely be awake during the procedure and may be given a mild sedative to help you relax. A short, hollow tube is inserted through a small cut into an artery in your leg or wrist and through that tube, a thin, flexible catheter is advanced to your heart. A local anesthetic is given to numb the insertion site. Live X-ray pictures will help guide the catheter into your heart and arteries. Dye (contrast) will be injected into your body to highlight blood flow and make your coronary arteries visible so your doctor can check for blockages in the vessels that lead to your heart. The catheter is moved through the aortic valve into the left side of your heart. Pressure and heart muscle strength are measured as well.

Right and Left Coronary Heart Catheterization and Coronary Angiography (RLHCC): See above for left coronary heart catheterization. With a right heart catheterization, the catheter is inserted into a vein, rather than an artery as in the left heart procedure. The catheter is guided into the right side of your heart and into your pulmonary artery, the main artery that carries blood to your lungs. This allows us to measure pressures in your heart and lungs.

Blockage Assessment: Several procedures, including ultrasound and flow measurements, can be used to help your doctor find out how severe any blockages found in your coronary arteries might be.

Pulmonary Arteriogram (PA Gram): Pictures of the arteries in your lungs are taken using a catheter. This catheter is inserted into a vein in your leg or neck and advanced to your lungs. X-ray dye is then injected to check for blood clots.

Peripheral Angiography: If your doctor thinks you might have poor blood flow to your legs, we can take pictures of the blood vessels in your legs in a specially equipped procedure room. Much like a heart catheterization, X-ray dye is injected though a small catheter directly into the blood vessels of your lower extremities to assess for narrowing or blockages.

Renal Arteriogram: If your doctor thinks the cause of your high blood pressure might be renal artery stenosis (narrowing or blockage of arteries leading to the kidneys), we can get a look by inserting a small catheter in the artery in your leg and injecting a dye directly into the renal artery.

Interventional Procedures

Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI): Also known as angioplasty, percutaneous coronary intervention is a type of procedure used to open blocked coronary arteries and restore blood flow to the heart. These procedures are used to fix a blockage without open-heart surgery, and provide an effective solution in most cases. In some instances, your doctor may refer you to our highly regarded team of cardiac surgeons at LG Health Physicians Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Types of PCI include:

  • Balloon Angioplasty (PTCA)—During balloon angioplasty, a tiny balloon on the tip of a catheter is advanced into your coronary artery and across the blockage. The balloon is then inflated, compressing the blockage against the artery wall.
  • Coronary Stent Implantation—A coronary stent is a small metal tube, much like the spring in a pen, which is mounted on an angioplasty balloon. The stent and balloon are advanced across a blockage. Once in position, the balloon is inflated, implanting the stent into the wall of the artery, where it acts as a scaffolding to hold the artery open. Most of the stents we use are coated with a drug that helps prevent scar tissue from forming inside the stent.
  • Rotational Atherectomy (PTRA)—When a blockage is very hard, due to calcium buildup on the inside of the artery, a catheter-based, diamond-tipped drill is used to reduce the blockage.
  • Thrombectomy—When a coronary artery contains a blood clot (thrombus), several devices can be used to remove this clot and restore blood flow to your heart.

Coronary Ultrasound: If X-ray pictures are not enough to diagnose a problem in your arteries, an ultrasound catheter can be advanced to obtain images from inside your artery.

Septal Defect: There may be options available, at the discretion of your cardiologist, which could be used to fix holes in the septum of your heart.

Vena Cava Filter: This is a metal filter that is placed in a major vein returning to your heart to prevent blood clots from entering your lungs. In time, any clots that are trapped in the filter simply dissolve.

Peripheral Interventions: When a blockage is found in one or more of the blood vessels feeding your legs, your doctor has several options for fixing the blockage(s). Much like fixing blockages of the heart vessels, your doctor can use angioplasty balloons, stents, thrombectomy, and laser to open blockages in the blood vessels in your legs.

Renal Artery Stenting: If renal artery stenosis (narrowing of arteries that carry blood to one or both of the kidneys) is found to be the cause of your high blood pressure, your doctor might choose to place a stent in the renal artery. A renal stent is a small metal tube, much like the spring in a pen, which is mounted on an angioplasty balloon. The stent and balloon are advanced across a blockage, and once in position, the balloon is inflated to help restore blood flow.

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