What is a Cath Lab?

While modalities like CT and MRI are well known by most, systems like the cath lab fly a bit more under the radar. Before we jump into our organized information, it’s good to keep in mind that a cath lab is basically an examination room that uses medical equipment to perform cardiac, vascular, and angiographic imaging using a catheter.

Note: Block Imaging provides new and refurbished cath lab equipment, parts, and service in order to serve our customers. Reach out to our sales team to learn more about how we can help improve your diagnostic imaging.

What is a cath lab?

A cath lab is an examination room with diagnostic imaging equipment where doctors perform minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and treat a wide range of cardiovascular issues.

In the cath lab, doctors use fluoroscopy to see catheters move through vessels and arteries, and from there can deploy a variety of methods to diagnose and treat various diseases.

One thing that stands a cath lab apart from other modalities is the image to diagnosis to treatment timeline. Modalities such as MRI, CT, Rad Rooms, etc. are diagnostics that provide data to enable treatments. In a cath lab, they are diagnosing and treating, often in the same study.

Cath labs typically need to be in rooms that can accommodate all their needs. GE models and Philips models each have their unique dimensional requirements. It’s difficult to recommend a typical room size since each project can have particular needs.

When customers do ask about cath lab room sizes, our team at Block Imaging often sends a base-level drawing as a starting point to work with the customer to design a room that will work for them and their facility. Because of the level of customization needed for the space, it is essential to have a dedicated support team to assist in such an estimation as well as installation.

You'll find cath labs in facilities like hospitals, imaging centers, office-based labs, and ambulatory surgery centers.

What procedures can a cath lab perform?

A variety of procedures can be performed in a cath lab. Some of the most common are listed below:

Ablation – Treatment for atrial fibrillation using heat or cold to create tiny amounts of scar tissue in the heart in the electrical location causing irregular heartbeats.

Angiogram – Using fluoroscopy and contrast dye to view blood flow through veins, arteries, or the heart.

Angioplasty and Stenting – Procedure for the widening of narrowed or obstructed veins or arteries.

Coiling – Insertion of small metal coils into an aneurysm to stop blood flow into the aneurysm to reduce the risk of a bleed.

Electrophysiology (EP studies) – A study to assess the electrical system of the heart, searching for abnormalities or arrhythmias (See Ablation above).

Heart Valve Replacement – Replacement of faulty heart valves with a mechanical valve.

Pacemakers – Implanting of a pacemaker into the patients chest to help maintain regular heartbeats.

Radioembolization – Oncology treatment where tiny glass or resin beads filled with a radioisotope are placed directly into the blood vessel that is feeding a tumor.

Thrombectomy - Removal of blood clots from a blood vessel.

Comparing Different Cath Lab Systems

While most labs are single plane systems, the more specialized areas utilize biplane cath labs. These provide images on both the X and Y axes and are more suitable for those studies requiring 3D reconstruction of images. Learn more about single plane vs. biplane systems.

Also, depending on the studies being performed, there are a whole host of additional equipment that could be in the room. Items like GE MacLab Patient Monitors, IVUS ultrasound, balloon pumps, thrombectomy pumps, anesthesia equipment, and more could be in the room, ready for use as needed.

Final Takeaway

So there you have it! Cath Labs are fundamental in doctor's diagnosing and treating a wide range of cardiovascular issues. Interested in equipping your facility with a refurbished cath lab? Click here for a cath lab price guide or contact us today!


Picture of Kenn Dextrom

Kenn Dextrom

Kenn Dextrom is the Director of Product Manager at Block Imaging. He aims to provide clear direction and careful planning for Interventional Cath Lab buyers and working with the Block Imaging product team to provide excellent solutions for our customers. Out of the office, he spends most of his time keeping up with his wife and their three energetic sons.