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What Procedures Are Done in a Cath Lab?


Most X-ray devices are used for medical diagnosis, but for certain procedures the units can be both diagnostic and interventional. Among these belong mobile C-arms and cath lab system.






We have written about the use of mobile C-arm machines, but what procedures are done in a cath lab, and when would you use a cath lab rather than a mobile C-arm?






Let us take a look.






What is a Cath Lab?


Cath lab, short for catheterization laboratory, is an examination room in a hospital or clinic with diagnostic imaging equipment.






It is similar to a C-arm system except that it is not mobile but a mounted system with a table. It also has more power than a mobile C-arm.






In a cath lab, physicians perform minimally invasive tests and procedures to diagnose and treat, for example, cardiovascular diseases.






The procedures performed in a cath lab often include small, flexible tubes, called catheters that are used instead of open surgery, to access the heart and blood vessels.






In general, cath labs consist of:






Patient table


Image intensifier / Flat panel detector


Viewing monitors


Injector pump


Angioplasty balloons


Defibrillator






Most cath labs have a single X-ray generator source and X-ray image intensifier for fluoroscopic imaging. Those are single plane cath labs, either floor or ceiling mounted.






Older cath labs use cine film to record the information (these are analog cath labs). However, since the early 2000’s, most new facilities have gone digital.






In the market, there are also biplane or dual plane cath labs. Dual cath labs have two C-arms, where either both are ceiling mounted or one is ceiling and the other is floor mounted.






This means that the system has a dual X-ray source as well as a dual detector that allow simultaneous two plane visualization in, for example, coronary procedures.






Most top providers of medical robot imaging equipment also manufacture cath labs. You can find cath labs from GE, Philips, Siemens as well as Canon Medical (former Toshiba).






What Procedures Are Done in a Cath Lab?


Typically, you would use a cath lab for:






Cardiac procedures


Vascular procedures


Angiography procedures


Neurology procedures






The different types of interventional work require different characteristics of the cath lab with opration table. Nevertheless, the most important determinants to help you decide which cath lab fits your needs are:






Whether the system is single plane or biplane


Floor or ceiling mounted


And the size of the detector






Let us discuss these in more detail.






Biplane systems can acquire 3D images faster because they capture image data from detectors on two axes instead of just one.






Even though single plane cath labs (picture on the left) are also capable of 3D imaging, it takes longer for the C-arm to move. And thus, the software’s reconstruction process can cause delays.






Moreover, biplane cath labs come with the 3D software as a standard, while it must be added to the single-plane systems.






Another difference is in the site preparation. A biplane cath lab is basically a double C-arm, therefore, you need more space as well as more time to have the site ready for your cath lab.






Biplane systems can acquire 3D images faster because they capture image data from detectors on two axes instead of just one.






Even though single plane cath labs (picture on the left) are also capable of 3D imaging, it takes longer for the C-arm to move. And thus, the software’s reconstruction process can cause delays.






Moreover, biplane cath labs come with the 3D software as a standard, while it must be added to the single-plane systems.






Another difference is in the site preparation. A biplane cath lab is basically a double C-arm, therefore, you need more space as well as more time to have the site ready for your cath lab.
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