Beacon Hospital has two state-of-the-art newly revamped Cath Labs located on the hospital’s third floor.
A Cath Lab is a specially designed theatre where tests and procedures regarding the heart and circulatory system take place. Patients will usually be awake for procedures taking place in the Cath Lab as these tend to be minimally invasive in nature and require only local anaesthetic.
Beacon Hospital’s Cath Labs are staffed by an experienced multidisciplinary team including our Consultant Cardiologists and Electrophysiologists as well as our cardiac physiologists, radiographers and cardiac clinical nurse specialists.
After their Cath Lab procedure, patients will be taken to our specialist cardiac recovery unit adjacent to the Cath Lab. Patients will be monitored here for a time before being discharged home with their post procedure advice. Patients requiring overnight stays in the hospital will be transferred to their allocated room once their procedure in the Cath Lab has been completes.
Diagnostics and Treatments:
Cardiac Ablation plays an important role in the treatment of heath arrhythmias (This is an abnormal heart rhythm). This procedure is carried out on the bed in the Cath Lab by one of our specialised Consultant Cardiologist/Electrophysiologists and usually takes between 2 and 4 hours.
First, diagnostic catheters are threaded through your blood vessels to identify and map out your heart’s electrical signals. Secondly, ablation is used to scar or destroy tissue which is causing these abnormalities. This leaves the healthy tissue to continue doing its job free of mixed signals from the previously damaged and incorrect tissues.
Cardioversion is a procedure which restores a normal heart rhythm in people with certain kinds of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats).
Electropads are placed on your chest and controlled electric shocks to your heart. Sometimes, medications may be used to do cardioversions. If you require cardioversion, your consultant will carry out whichever type is best for you based on clinical indicators specific to your case.
A coronary angiogram is a test which uses a combination of dye and x-ray technology to examine the flow of blood to the heart via the coronary arteries. An angiogram will show your Consultant if there are any narrowing in these arteries. It also allows the Consultant to examine how tight the artery is.
This test is sometimes used to examine how well your heart is pumping. It can highlight any problems in the chambers or valves of your heart. This procedure is sometimes referred to as Cardiac Catheterisation.
Balloon Angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure used to re-open clogged arteries. It is most commonly used to treat a build-up of fatty plaques in your heart’s blood vessels. It can also be used during a heart attack to quickly open a patient’s artery to reduce damage to the heart.
Angioplasty uses a catheter which is inserted into the blocked blood vessel. A tiny balloon on the end of this catheter inflated to reopen the vessel thus improving blood flow to your heart.
This is a study used to assess the origin of disturbances in the normal cardiac rhythm. Tiny catheters are passed up through the femoral or brachial artery to the heart. Once in the heart, they test the heart’s electrical system.
This gives valuable information to your Cardiologist on how best to proceed with the treatment of any abnormalities.
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)
An ICD is an electronic device about the size of a stopwatch which is connected to the heart. It monitors and regulates fast and potentially life-threatening electrical abnormalities with the heart. Where irregular or life-threatening heart rhythms occur, the device delivers a ‘shock’ to reset the heart rhythm to prevent the patient going into cardiac arrest. Patients are unaware of the ICD for the most part. However, if the device needs to deliver a shock, patients sometimes describe the feeling of this as a ‘kick to the chest’.
The ICD also stores and records information about your heart rhythm for your Consultant to review. An ICD can also be programmed to act as a pacemaker if required.
Patients who have suffered from a sudden cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation or have fainted from a ventricular arrhythmia may be advised to have an ICD implanted.
It is generally recommended for patients at high risk of cardiac arrest due to a ventricular arrhythmia. This includes patients suffering from heart failure or who have an abnormal contraction of the heart from issues such as left ventricular ejection fraction.
Implantable Loop Recorder
An implantable loop recorder is a small device which is implanted just underneath the skin in the chest area. This device is able to continuously monitor the rhythm of the heart for up to three years. This can give your consultant detailed information on the rhythm of your heart and allows them to monitor any patterns of abnormal rhythm.
Both implantation and removals of these loop recorders take place in the Cath Lab.
Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS)
Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS) uses a tiny ultrasound transducer on the tip of a catheter to take images from inside of the blood vessels. IVUS can be used to evaluate the diameter of the vessel, the length or amount of plaque build-up in a vessel or even to ascertain if stents have been inserted and deployed effectively. IVUS is sometimes used to help measure the effectiveness of balloon angioplasty or stenting during post-procedure follow-ups.
This is a minimally invasive procedure and patients report minimal discomfort.
A pacemaker can be inserted where patients may suffer from an irregular heart rhythm. The pacemaker prompts the heart to remain in its regular rhythm. A Pacemaker can either be temporary or permanent, depending on each individual case.
PCI of Chronic Total Occlusion (CTO)
A PCI, or Chronic Total Occlusion, is a complete blockage in the coronary arteries.
CTO’s have typically been present for more than three months and are the result of a severe build-up of fatty deposits or plaque in the arteries. CTO’s are commonly found in patients suffering from coronary artery disease.
When blockages occur, new blood vessels called ‘collateral blood vessels’ form around the blockage to help blood to continue to flow. During this procedure, a catheter with a balloon is inserted into these blood vessels. The balloon is inflated and a stent inserted to widen the vessel. This newly widened vessel allows the blood to flow more freely again.
Pericardiocentesis is a procedure carried out to remove fluid which has built up in the sac around the heart. This procedure is minimally invasive and involves the use of a needle and a small catheter to drain this excess fluid from the sac.
Excess fluid in this sac around the heart can negatively impact the heart’s function. Pericardiocentesis drains this fluid away and can help prevent the future build-up of fluid.
Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI), the procedure formerly known as Stenting
Sometimes, angioplasty is combined with the placing of a wire mesh tube which is called a stent. A stent helps to prop the artery open in order to decrease the likelihood of it narrowing again.
The majority of stents are coated in medication, these are called drug-elating stents. The drugs in these stents also help to keep the artery they are placed in open.
Pressure Wire (FFR)
FFR (Fractional Flow Reserve), also called a pressure wire test, is used to determine if a stent is required as treatment for a patient. Sometimes a coronary artery may appear narrowed but the blood flow may not be affected. Where this is the case, stenting may not result in much improvement for the patient and so another course of action may be preferable.
During this procedure, a catheter is inserted into the artery and a pressure sensor introduced. A medication is then administered. This medicine causes an increase in heart rate and blood flow. This may make you feel a little unpleasant but it is usually stopped within about 30 seconds.
While the heart rate is increased, your consultant will be taking measurements to determine if blood flow through the artery is sufficient to supply the heart with enough oxygen. If so, your consultant may decide to treat you with medication rather than a stent.
Right Heart Studies
Your Consultant may recommend a right-heart catheterisation to see how well your heart is pumping and to measure pressure in the heart and lungs. A catheter is passed into the right side of your heart and through your pulmonary artery. This artery carries blood into your lungs.
As the catheter moves from your heart to your artery, your Consultant measures pressures along the way and inside the right ventricle and chamber of your heart. Sometimes, the Consultant may give IV heart medicines during this procedure to monitor how the heart responds to these.
Not as common as it used to be due to balloon angioplasty, Rotablation is a procedure used to widen the walls of an artery which have been narrowed due to a build-up of plaque.
During a Rotablation, a catheter with an acorn-shaped, diamond-coated tip, is guided through the artery to the point of the plaque build-up. Once at this point, your Consultant sends the tip into a spinning motion. This high-speed spinning grinds away the plaque present of your artery walls. The minute particles of plaque are then carried away in your bloodstream for disposal.
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVI)
TAVI is a procedure commonly used to treat patients suffering from severe aortic stenosis. This is a minimally invasive alternative to open-heart surgery and so is often suitable for even higher risk patients.
Aortic Stenosis occurs when one of the four valves found in the heart beacons narrowed. The condition is diagnosed predominantly in patients over the age of 70.
During a TAVI procedure, a new valve is inserted without removing the old damaged one. The new valve sits in the old one and takes over the task of regulating the blood flow. This minimally invasive procedure requires a much shorter stay in hospital than that required with the more invasive and older approach of removing the old valve when inserting the new one.
Transoesophageal Echocardiogram (TOE)
A Transoesophageal Echocardiogram, or TOE as it is often referred to as, is an ultrasound that uses sound waves to produce real-time images of your heart. During a TOE, a small ultrasound probe is inserted through your mouth down your oesophagus to take images of your body.
A TOE gives more detailed pictures of your heart than those from a transthoracic echocardiogram which takes external ultrasound images.