By Michael Thomas
A hospital or health care facility can be composed of dozens of departments. A Catheterization Lab, commonly referred to as Cath Lab or EP Lab, is instrumentally vital to one of the busiest departments, Cardiology. Hybrid OR’s are equipped with diagnostic imaging technology to give physicians visual access to chambers and arteries of the heart. In these areas, physicians perform life-saving procedures including coronary artery bypass graft surgery, balloon angioplasty, congenital heart defect closure, stenotic heart valves, and pacemaker implantations.
These acute procedures would not have been practicable without the appropriate technology to facilitate the imaging process. Cath Lab operations are dependent on medical displays, as these monitors allow physicians to visualize a patient internally and perform the necessary procedure. In a single medical procedure, up to 4-6 monitors can be utilized at any time for enhanced visibility.
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Although many monumental advancements have been made in the efficiency of cath labs, the dependence on X-rays for imaging has persisted through every upgrade. From purchasing analog or digital modalities to choosing a single or bi-plane system, there are endless customization possibilities. Typically, the rooms consist of an image intensifier, C-arm, X-Ray tubes, and several displays.
Advantageously, the digital age ushered in an era of improvements to imaging technology, which emitted less radiation, and displayed visual clarity. The adoption of CRT monitors in the cath lab inherently changed how labs ran.
In the early cath labs, all information was conveyed through film. The X-rays utilized, produced high-doses of radiation and low-quality images, which were printed on 16-mm or 35-mm film. Then, radiologists spent many hours of the day in darkrooms to process images, and ample storage space was wasted holding boxes of film.
With the implementation of picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), the transition from analog to digital technology was concretized. PACS is an all-in-one program that provides electronic storage, retrieval, distribution, and presentation of radiology images.
In the cath lab, there are typically four to six CRT or LCDs in use. One image is always utilized for monitoring physiological attributes like a patient's heart rate or blood oxygen level. Following CRT displays, was the adaptation of LCD monitors. Many physicians upgraded to these monitors since they are slimmer, more portable, and offer higher resolution images.