Cath Labs: Listening to the rhythm of the beat

A Cath lab is a laboratory that conducts tests and procedures that assess how well the heart is functioning. During the Cardiac Catheterization, a Catheter (a flexible tube inserted through a narrow opening into a body cavity to remove fluid) is inserted into a large blood vessel that leads to your heart and in the lab – procedures and tests include ablation (a procedure where the electrical activity in your heart is recorded), angiogram(a process where a series of x-rays are created to find the blockage in the arteries), and implantation of pacemakers. Unlike operations that take place in an operating theatre, you will be awake for the duration of the procedure.



1. Preparation


Prior to entering the Cath Lab, you will change into a gown and a cannula will be inserted into your arm. The doctor will explain the procedure to you and you will have to sign the consent form and then lie on the x-ray table for thirty minutes. An ECG machine will be connected to you to measure your heart rhythm. In case you are required to be asleep during the procedure then a general anesthetic will be administered to you.


2. Procedure


Depending on the procedure, the skin at your groin or collarbone or neck will be cleaned with a special solution, then a local anesthetic will be administered and the Cannula will be inserted using a specific vein or an artery that leads to your heart. The Cannula is guided with the help of the x-ray.


3. Post procedure


Once the procedure is completed the catheter is removed. Based on the operation, you will be asked to lie down for a short span of time. In case you have an angioplasty, ablation or pacemaker implantation, you can be relieved from the hospital on the same day. In case an angioplasty was conducted for a heart attack, then the duration of the stay in the hospital will increase

Process of an Angiogram


An Angiogram utilizes a special dye and camera to take pictures of the blood flow in an artery or a vein. This dye is passed through the catheter and after several x-rays, the dye will mark out the areas where the arteries are blocked on the x-ray.

Process of an Angioplasty


An Angioplasty is an endovascular procedure used to open blocked sections of the artery. At one end of the catheter there is a balloon which is slowly inflated to squeeze out the fatty deposits on the artery wall, thereby allowing the blood to flow easily through the arteries. If required, a stent is inserted to strengthen the artery walls.


After the surgery, you must eat and drink fluids to flush out the dye from your body. Based on the type of surgery that you had undertaken you will be discharged. There are a few cases where a surgeon has to repair the hole where the catheter was attached to the patient and the substance used to fix the whole is absorbed in time. There are no after effects of the Cardiac Cath and it is a safe practice which is performed regularly.


PIH is Port Moresby’s largest private hospital offering more than 14 specialities under one roof, with specialists and technologically advanced equipments being utilized to bring modern healthcare to PNG. PIH is the only hospital in Papua New Guinea to set up a fully functional tertiary care unit especially for Cardiac Care. The doctors and cardiac surgeons hof Pih have conducted several successful open heart surgeries and angioplasties and helped many afflicted PNGians. Pacific International Hospital is is celebrating its one year of serving the community of PNG on the 29th of May, Sunday.


If you have any further queries about Cath Lab or Angioplasty, please feel free to email us at or simply walk in and ask to be shown around the new facility.


Disclaimer: The information available on this blog related to images, graphics, text and other content is available for educational purposes only. Seek the advice of your doctor in respect to questions on a medical condition or treatment and do not disregard the doctor’s professional advice after reading information on this blog.