Cardiac Catheterization (Cath) Lab
The Cardiac Catheterization Lab or “Cath Lab” is a specialized unit that actually contains two separate catheterization rooms. The unit provides several services for patients with a variety of heart conditions and events. These include heart tests such as angiograms used to diagnose heart problems, and treatments like angioplasty that opens up arteries during a heart attack – or to prevent one from happening in the first place. The Cath Lab is a regional unit with a team of cardiologists and other cardiac professionals, providing 24/7 emergency care right here in Thunder Bay.
What to Expect
Patients may be referred to the Cath Lab by a cardiologist.For planned procedures, your primary care provider and/or your cardiologist will explain your procedure to you prior to your visit. You will receive special instructions including what medications to take and what to avoid before your procedure, instructions about eating and drinking, and other information. This is a good time to ask any questions you may have about the procedure itself. A few days prior to your procedure, a nurse from the Cath Lab will follow up with a phone call to confirm your appointment, review your procedure with you again, and ask you some questions. You may also ask your own questions at this time if you have them. You can also call the desk directly during weekday hours at (807) 684-6675 with any questions you may have.Upon arrival at the Health Sciences Centre, patients must register at Admitting, which is just to the right of the main doors.
Please bring your Health Card.
Once admitted, patients will be directed to the Cath Lab reception on Level 3 (please see “How Do I Get There?” on this page, in the left menu). It is a fair distance, so you may be more comfortable having a family member push you using one of the STAXI wheelchairs at the Information Desk across from Admitting.
Depending on your procedure, you may be finished in less than two hours or you may spend several hours in recovery in our short stay unit. During this recovery time, a maximum of two visitors 12 years of age and older are welcome at the bedside. This limit is to encourage patients to rest, and to reduce congestion in the recovery area. We ask that visitors respect other patients and their families in this quiet area.
Please make sure that you have a ride arranged prior to your discharge. Since recovery times vary, you may give us the name and phone number of the person picking you up, and we will call when you are ready for discharge.
In some cases, especially in emergency cases, you may spend a few days in either the 2C (cardiac) unit or the Critical Care Unit (ICU).
If you have any questions about your procedure, we encourage you to talk to your cardiologist, your primary care provider (family doctor, nurse practitioner, etc.), or call the Cath Lab reception during daytime hours at (807) 684-6675.
Here are a few of the words you may hear at the Cath Lab:
- Angiogram (or Angiography)
- A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses dye, inserted by catheterization, and x-rays to find blockages and other heart problems.
- A procedure to widen blocked or partially blocked arteries, usually with a balloon. In most cases, one or more stents are used to help support the artery.
- A method of correcting an irregular heartbeat using electrical shock.
- The insertion of a thin plastic tube (called a catheter) to help in certain procedures like inserting dye for angiograms or widening arteries and placing stents during angioplasty.
- ECG (or EKG)
- Electro-cardiogram, which measures the electrical activity in the heart using a number of electrodes attached to specific parts of the body.
- Intravenous ultra sound, used to get a “3D” picture of arteries if a standard 2D cardiogram cannot determine the amount of blockage.
- Stents (or stenting)
- Small mesh tubes used to hold arteries open after angioplasty.
- Stress Test
- A test designed to stress the heart through physical activity or other method to see how well it operates. This is the first and least invasive method of diagnosing possible heart problems.