If have problems with the muscle, valves or arteries in your heart, Central Maine Heart and Vascular Institute (CMHVI) Cardiac Catheterization Lab is here to provide you with the care you need.
At our Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, also known as the Cath Lab, cardiologists and a team of specialty nurses and radiologic technicians use a procedure known as cardiac catherization to diagnose, assess and treat heart problems such as coronary artery disease and angina.
State-of-the-Art Catherization Technology
CMHVI’s Cath Lab uses the latest technology to assess and treat heart problems, including a multi-view camera that rotates around the patient and provides multiple views. This advanced camera emits less radiation than traditional imaging technology, requires less contrast dye and greatly enhances image quality. We also use a cutting-edge hemodynamic system that monitors your blood pressure, the electrical activity in your heart, your pulse and blood oxygen levels during catheterization procedures.
Cardiac Catheterization: From Diagnosis to Treatment
Doctors use catheterization to perform a variety of procedures, including a type of X-ray called a coronary angiogram that can detect blockages in the arteries. During catheterization, a cardiologist inserts a catheter (thin plastic tube) through an artery in your groin or arm and guides it into your heart. Contrast dye injected through the catheter allows blood vessels to show on a monitor. This part of the procedure is called an angiogram. The test also measures blood pressure and blood oxygen levels. Images from the test detect blockages that may need to be repaired.
If an angiogram shows that your arteries are narrowed, you may be a candidate for treatment called percutaneous coronary angioplasty (balloon angioplasty) to reopen them and improve blood flow to your heart. Balloon angioplasty is also used in emergencies to treat patients who have suffered heart attacks because an artery has developed a total or near-total blockage.
Percutaneous Coronary Angioplasty (Balloon Angioplasty)
To re-open narrowed or blocked coronary arteries in someone with coronary artery disease or heart attack (myocardial infarction), an interventional cardiologist guides a catheter to the site where a waxy substance made of cholesterol and other substances called plaque has formed a blockage. The tip of a catheter used in this procedure is equipped with a tiny deflated balloon. Once the catheter is in place, the surgeon inflates the balloon. As the balloon expands it pushes aside the plaque, widening the flow space inside the artery. Once the artery is open, the surgeon slowly withdraws the catheter.
Coronary Artery Stent Placement
Once a narrowed or blocked artery has been re-opened, the danger isn’t necessarily over. Arteries that have been unclogged often narrow or close again later. To reduce the risk for this problem, doctors often choose to insert a device called a stent in the segment of an artery that was reopened.
A stent is a tiny mesh tube that doctors implant in an artery to prevent plaque from blocking the blood vessel. Stents are implanted in arteries in the heart (coronary arteries), neck (carotid arteries) or liver. Drug-eluting stents are coated with medication that is released over time to help prevent the artery from becoming blocked again. A coronary artery stent implant may lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Other Cath Lab Procedures
Other procedures available at CMHVI Cath Lab include:
- Intravascular ultrasound
- Intra-aortic balloon pump
- Pacemaker placement
- Procedural education
- Diagnostic peripheral arterial catheterization
- Percutaneous peripheral arterial intervention (stent placement, angioplasty, limb salvage)
- Diagnostic and intervention peripheral arterial procedures