Cardiac Cath Lab and CT Scanning

Cardiac Cath Lab

Harford County residents have the latest technology in diagnosing heart disease at the R. Walter and Beatrice Ward Cardiac Catheterization Lab at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center (UM UCMC).

A cardiac cath procedure usually takes about 30 minutes and is generally painless. The purpose of the procedure is to diagnose patients who have various forms of heart disease.

The cath lab equipment allows the cardiologist to see instant moving images of the heart. These images show the pumping function of the heart and can identify blockages in the arteries that feed the heart muscle. During the cardiac catheterization, a flexible, narrow plastic tube called a catheter is guided into an artery in the upper leg (groin), and is gently guided to the heart. A contrast media or x-ray dye is injected into the catheter to reveal the blood flow through the heart arteries. A series of live pictures or moving X-rays are taken to see how effectively the heart is functioning as a pump and if the blood is flowing correctly.

Michael Drossner, M.D., who has performed heart catheterizations for the past 20 years, will head the cardiac catheterization team along with UCH Cardiologist V.J. Nair, M.D.  The team includes registered nurses and radiologic technologists, all who are highly skilled and competent in their field.

Pacemaker and AICD’s (automatic internal cardiac defibrillator) insertions are performed in the new lab in addition to catheterizations. For the convenience and comfort of our patients, there is a private Cardiovascular Prep and Recovery Unit located adjacent to the Catheterization Lab.

Making the Diagnosis
After the diagnostic test is complete, the cardiologist reviews all the images to determine if there is narrowing or blockages requiring further treatment. The cardiology team then determines if the problem can be treated with medicine, a therapeutic interventional procedure, or bypass surgery.

Patient Referral
Patients are referred by their physician for cath procedures or come through our Emergency Department to be seen in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab. A service of the UM UCH Heart and Vascular Institute, the Cardiac Catheterization Lab follows protocols developed in conjunction with the renowned St. Joseph Heart Institute. For more information please call Diane Durm, Cardiac Catheterization Lab Manager, at 443-643-3680.

Cardiac CT Scanning

The most advanced CT scan technology in the world is available at UCMC. The LightSpeed VCT (Volume Computed Tomography) scanner offers incredible speed and image quality.

VCT scanning allows the visualization of structures within the human body and can capture images of the heart in just five heartbeats, and other organs in only a second. This advanced technology turns the images into 3-D views that physicians can use to diagnose and decide the best course of treatment.

The new scanner is used for a variety of procedures, including cancer care, stroke workup, and kidney and liver exams, but the LightSpeed VCT is most beneficial for cardiac imaging. This new technology can decipher between aortic dissection, pulmonary embolism, and coronary artery disease, the three major causes of mortality in patients with chest pain.  In addition to the new diagnostic power in cardiac cases, the LightSpeed VCT offers the speed and resolution needed for immediate imaging of blood vessels after a stroke.

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