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Cardiac catheterization lab

The full-service cardiac catheterization laboratories at White Plains Hospital provide the community with numerous options for diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. We opened the Joan and Alan Herfort, MD, Cardiac Catheterization Lab in 2008 and began performing emergency cardiac catheterizations in 2010. In late 2015, the Hospital proudly opened the Marie Promuto Cardiac Cath Lab with state-of-the-art equipment to best meet the demand of a growing number of patients who are in need of interventional and emergency angioplasty, device implants and other procedures.

The Hospital continues to meet the challenge of enormous growth seen over the past several years. Our "door-to-balloon time" remains consistently under one hour and is an exceptional quality measure that demonstrates the focus and talent of our staff in both the emergency room and the cardiac cath lab. Interventional cardiology is a specialty utilizing minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and treat blockages in the coronary arteries or other heart-related conditions.

Preparing for cardiac catheterization

White Plains Hospital provides several guidelines for how to prepare for cardiac catheterization. Below you will find a summary of the main points:

  • You will be given specific instructions regarding what you can eat or drink for 24 hours before your cardiac catheterization procedure. Typically, you will be instructed not to eat or drink anything 6 to 8 hours prior to your procedure.
  • Provide your doctor with a full list of medications you are taking. Depending on your test, you may be told not to take one of your prescription medication, over-the-counter medications or herbal supplements the day of your procedure. However, do not stop taking any of your medications until you are specifically instructed to do so.
  • Inform your provider of any allergies. Your doctor or nurse should be informed if you are allergic to iodine, shellfish, latex, rubber products or penicillin. These substances/materials may be present in certain cardiac cath lab testing procedures.
  • Arrange for a ride home after your cardiac catheterization procedure. You may be instructed not to drive for a certain amount of time after your test.
  • If you wear glasses, bring them to your appointment, rather than wearing contact lenses. Likewise, if you normally wear a hearing aid, you should wear it during your procedure. It is recommended you leave jewelry home when coming for your procedure.

Frequently asked questions

What is a cardiac catheterization?

A cardiac catheterization (or cardiac cath) is a procedure that examines how well your heart is functioning. To do so, a catheter, which is a thin, hollow tube, is inserted into a large blood vessel (artery) that leads to your heart. This can be done through an artery in your groin area or your wrist. Your heart and artery anatomy can be assessed using a small amount of dye during the procedure. Depending on the cardiac cath findings, patients can be discharged home the same day.

What is the purpose?

The purpose of a cardiac cath is to find out if your heart is healthy or if you have damage. For instance, a cardiac cath looks for disease of the heart muscle, valves or coronary (heart) arteries. If problems are identified during your cardiac cath, this allows for procedures to be done to open blocked arteries.

What is a coronary angiography?

During your visit to the cardiac catheterization lab, a coronary angiography is done by injecting a contrast dye through the catheter. The dye is visible in x-ray images and can be seen flowing through the heart's arteries. The goal is to determine if any arteries are blocked, and if so, which ones.

What are the risks?

While cardiac catheterization is considered very safe, some patients experience minor reactions from the procedures. For instance, some patients develop bruises at the puncture site or the contrast dye used during the coronary angiography may cause an adverse or allergic reaction. Your physician will discuss more of the possible adverse reactions that may occur during your visit.

How can I prepare for the cardiac cath lab?

Before you go to the cardiac cath lab, your doctor will provide you with a list of specific instructions. However, there are some general things to consider before you undergo a cardiac cath in the "Preparing for cardiac catheterization" section on this page.

What happens during cardiac catheterization?

The specific procedures conducted during your visit to the cardiac catheterization lab may vary depending on your needs. For instance, your doctor may do some of the following:

  • Perform a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), which can open narrowed or blocked segments of a coronary artery
  • Assess the pressure in each of the four chambers of your heart
  • Take samples of blood to measure your heart’s oxygen content
  • Determine how effectively the pumping chambers of your heart contract
  • Search for defects in the valves or chambers of your heart
  • Conduct a biopsy of the heart muscle

What can I expect after cardiac catheterization?

After your cardiac catheterization, you will be taken to a recovery room to lie flat. You may be instructed not to drive following your procedure, so it's important that you arrange to have someone drive you home. In addition, you will be given after-care instructions, including when to call the doctor if you have further questions or concerns.