New heart cath technology comes to Albany

The Philips FD-20 is the new heart catheterization lab technology being used at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Officials say it was installed roughly two months ago. (Submitted photo)

The Philips FD-20 is the new heart catheterization lab technology being used at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Officials say it was installed roughly two months ago. (Submitted photo)

ALBANY — Whether it be a scheduled exam or an emergency coming in from a surrounding county, one of the first places a heart patient will often end up while in a hospital is a catheterization lab — a special operating room with imaging equipment not found in typical operating rooms designed to detect and treat most cardiac problems.

Two months ago, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital completed the installation of what is considered to be a cutting-edge cardiovascular imaging system in its cath lab that supports high-resolution imaging for cardiac and vascular procedures.

Officials say the new Philips FD-20 cardiac imaging technology is able to improve the hospital’s ability to care for and manage complex cardiovascular disease. The imaging equipment is also meant to improve patient safety by using less radiation while providing better images to the treating physician.

In addition, officials say, the new system allows for the use of a lower level of contrast material, which is better for the patient’s renal system — and that the system’s 3D image guidance tools are meant to provide extra support for complex minimally invasive procedures.

“This new lab brings better technology to image people’s hearts safer and better,” said Dr. Steven Wolinsky, a member of Phoebe Cardiology Associates a physician specializing in cardiovascular disease and interventional cardiology. “It is progression that is state-of-the art.

“(The image quality) allows us to visualize things with better precision and technology. It is highly visual technology.”

The physician response to the new unit so far appears to be a positive one, Wolinksy said.

“It is a great addition,” he said.

At least from the perspective of those selling the technology, the least amount of exposure doctors can get away with that is the most effective for them as well as the patients they are treating is the best way to go.

“It is the latest cath lab from Philips,” said Brent Durham, account manager with Philips. “This particular unit has various features. It allows them to use less of a radiation dose. There are several features that enable that.

“They can do an entire run of the cardiac cavity with one exposure and one dose of contrast. It enables less contrast, and that is very important.”

It features an 82-inch smart screen, compared to a 21-inch screen of earlier technology — which allows for images to be blown up or scaled down so physicians and technicians can get away with just getting one exposure regardless of the detail they need.

“They don’t have to be exposed again, and it allows physicians to see where lesions are,” Durham said.

Officials say the system is also designed to allow for less of a burden to the patient as well as the hospital staff in that more can be done with this particular machine, including a computed tomography (CT) scan.

“There is the capability to do a CT in the actual suite,” Durham said. “If you can do it in the cath lab, you don’t have to do that somewhere else. It’s a way to accomplish what you need with less impact to the patient.”

Overall, officials say it is meant to allow hospital staff to deliver faster, more accurate diagnosis and treatment. Phoebe spent $1.3 million to bring in the new technology.

An explanation on the purpose of cardiac catheterization provided by Mayo Clinic says that it is done to see if someone has a heart problem, or as part of a procedure to correct a heart problem a doctor may already know about. In the lab, the doctor can typically test for heart disease by locating narrowing or blockages in the blood vessels that could cause chest pain, measuring pressure and oxygen levels in different parts of the heart, checking the pumping function of the heart, taking a tissue sample from the heart, diagnosing congenital heart defects and looking for problems within the heart valves.

As far as heart disease treatment options are concerned, a cardiac catheterization can also be used to perform angioplasty with or without a stent placement, closure of holes in the heart and repair of other defects, repair or replacement of heart valves, balloon valvuloplasty, heart arrhythmia treatment and closure of part of the heart to prevent blood clots.