The Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Orange Park Medical Center opened in 2009 to perform emergent and elective cardiac interventions. These include angioplasty and stent placement to open blocked coronary arteries. Coronary arteries are those that supply the heart muscle with blood.

Board Certified Interventional Cardiologists with highly trained, experienced support staff meet the “Gold Standard” for door to balloon time. Door-to-balloon time is a measurement used in the treatment of heart attacks. The time is measured from the moment the patient arrives in the emergency room and ends when the blocked coronary artery is opened in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab. Our door to balloon time consistently beats the national guideline of 90 minutes.

A delay in treatment can mean the difference between life or death and level of disability. It is estimated that every minute someone experiencing a heart attack waits for treatment will result in two million heart cells lost.

What is cardiac catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive procedure used to diagnose and treat certain heart conditions.

A cardiologist inserts a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into a blood vessel in the patient’s arm or leg. Under x-ray guidance, he or she will thread the catheter to the heart. Through this catheter, doctors can perform diagnostic tests and treatments on the heart.

Why is an invasive procedure performed?

The invasive procedure allows the cardiologist to take pictures of the arteries to diagnose blockages.

What will occur during your procedure?

Your procedure may be completed in one of two-ways-through your leg or through your arm. Your cardiologist will determine which approach will be best for you.

The area will be shaved and cleaned with an antiseptic soap to prevent infection. A sterile drape will be used to cover the area. The cardiologist will order medication to help you relax. The staff assisting the doctor will administer your medication and monitor you during the procedure. A second staff member will assist the doctor at the table, while the third member of the team monitors your vital signs.

Your cardiologist will then administer a numbing medication called lidocaine to the area where a small plastic tube will be inserted into the artery. This tube is called a catheter and will be inserted and advanced to the artery. The cardiologist will inject a contrast media (dye) into the catheter. The dye is injected while the catheter is positioned around your chest, abdomen, head or legs.

Each time the cardiologist takes a picture, the camera is moved to a different position. This produces images of the arteries. There are several TV screens in the room.

While the cardiologist obtains the various pictures, he or she is able to determine if you have any blockages that will need treatment. When the cardiologist has completed the procedure, he or she will review the images. Should there be a blockage present; the cardiologist will correct the blockage by opening the vessel. The blockage may be treated by inserting a small balloon tipped catheter with a stent mounted on a balloon. The cardiologist will position the catheter at the site of the blockage and inflate the balloon. The inflated balloon expands the stent, opening the blockage.

This procedure may be repeated several times or until your cardiologist is satisfied with the result. During this time you will receive medication to make your blood thin to reduce the chance of blood clots forming.

The tube in your leg or arm may remain in place until the blood thinner is stopped. Once the tube is removed, you will remain in bed for several hours to prevent any chance of bleeding from the insertion site. An overnight stay in the hospital is requested.

The following day, your cardiologist will visit you and discuss the outcome of the procedure and discharge instructions.

What is required of you to prepare for the procedure?

  • Bring a current list of all your medications.
  • Blood work, EKG must be completed (Physician ordered) prior to your procedure.
  • If you are diabetic and taking medication, follow your physician’s orders for your medication the day of your procedure.
  • If you are taking blood thinners, follow your physician’s orders about your medication before your procedure.
  • You will be receiving medication to relax you, and there will be physical restrictions following your procedure, so you will need someone to drive you home after the test.
  • Should your doctor need to repair one of your arteries; you will remain in the hospital overnight (You may want to prepare an overnight bag).
  • Should you develop signs of a cold, fever or change in health status, inform your physician as your procedure may be postponed.
  • Bring a copy of your Advance Directive (Living Will).
  • Bring your current insurance cards.
  • Arrive at the hospital two hours prior to your appointment time.
  • While unlikely, some patients do require a blood transfusion. In those instances, we will provide you with specific information regarding the procedure.