Cardiac Catheterization and the Cath Lab
The diagnostic procedure used to examine your heart through an x-ray is called a cardiac catheterization, and the cath lab is the room in which the procedure is performed. Aside from the x-ray table and screen, other equipment, such as an automatic blood pressure cuff and a pulse oximeter, will be used to help monitor blood pressure and oxygen levels.
A cardiac catheterization is performed in a room commonly referred to as a "cath lab." As you enter the cath lab, you can expect the room to be slightly cold, usually 60 to 65 degrees Farenheit. However, blankets will be available to keep you warm. You will be moved to the x-ray table, where you will lie on your back. An automatic blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm. A pulse oximeter will be taped to your finger. This measures oxygen levels in your blood.
From the x-ray table, you will see several heart monitors and an x-ray screen that resembles a TV screen. If you choose to view your procedure, you can do so on this screen. On the monitors, your healthcare team will be watching the electrical activity of your heart, your pulse, blood pressure, and breathing. You may also hear many noises from these devices, such as loud, high-pitched and low-pitched beeps. These are all normal and are no cause for concern.
You will be covered with sterile sheets, and the only area exposed will be the catheter entry site.