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Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a medical procedure used to diagnose and treat some heart conditions.

Read more about heart catheterizations.

State-of-the-Art Cardiac Catheterization Labs

UC San Diego Health System offers interventional cardiology facilities in both Hillcrest and La Jolla (see our locations page), including cardiovascular catheterization laboratories ("cath labs") and electrophysiology (EP) suites.

Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center has six labs with advanced digital cardiac and vascular imaging systems. Digital (filmless) images mean we can provide a diagnosis and treatment plan almost immediately.

Our four cath labs are used for both scheduled and emergency procedures for rapid diagnosis and for treating conditions such as angina and myocardial infarction.

Video: Understanding What Happens In a Cath Lab

Ehtisham Mahmud, MD, describes how blocked arteries are opened up in the cath lab - restoring blood flow and stopping heart attack.

Saving Time, Saving Lives

Our cath lab procedural outcomes consistently place us in the top 2 percent of cardiac cath labs in the country (read more). As a STEMI-receiving hospital, our paramedics can consult with us while transporting a patient directly to the cath lab. We have consistently low "door-to-balloon" times, or the time it takes for a lifesaving procedure to begin during a severe heart attack. Our most recent average time of under 60 minutes exceeds the national benchmark of 90 minutes (read more).

In the emergency room, we use a risk-based triage system consisting of cardiac marker lab test results, electrocardiogram and cardiac consultation to expedite patients from the emergency room to the cardiovascular catheterization lab, as needed.

Our protocols meet and exceed national standards in rapid response time. In fact, we now activate our cardiac catheterization laboratory team based on the paramedic evaluation of the patient in the field.

Recent studies have confirmed that outcomes for patients suffering from heart attacks are best in hospitals such as UC San Diego Health System that offer emergency cardiac catheterization, angioplasty and stent placement. In addition, the chances of surviving a heart attack are best at hospitals such as ours, where interventional cardiologists perform these procedures on a routine and high-volume basis.