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Most X-ray devices are used for medical diagnosis, but for certain procedures the units can be both diagnostic and interventional. Among these belong mobile C-arms and cath lab system.

We have written about the use of mobile C-arm machines, but what procedures are done in a cath lab, and when would you use a cath lab rather than a mobile C-arm?

Let us take a look.

What is a Cath Lab?

Cath lab, short for catheterization laboratory, is an examination room in a hospital or clinic with diagnostic imaging equipment.

It is similar to a C-arm system except that it is not mobile but a mounted system with a table. It also has more power than a mobile C-arm.

In a cath lab, physicians perform minimally invasive tests and procedures to diagnose and treat, for example, cardiovascular diseases.

The procedures performed in a cath lab often include small, flexible tubes, called catheters that are used instead of open surgery, to access the heart and blood vessels.

In general, cath labs consist of:

Patient table

Image intensifier / Flat panel detector

Viewing monitors

Injector pump

Angioplasty balloons

Defibrillator

Most cath labs have a single X-ray generator source and X-ray image intensifier for fluoroscopic imaging. Those are single plane cath labs, either floor or ceiling mounted.

Older cath labs use cine film to record the information (these are analog cath labs). However, since the early 2000’s, most new facilities have gone digital.

In the market, there are also biplane or dual plane cath labs. Dual cath labs have two C-arms, where either both are ceiling mounted or one is ceiling and the other is floor mounted.

This means that the system has a dual X-ray source as well as a dual detector that allow simultaneous two plane visualization in, for example, coronary procedures.

Most top providers of medical robot imaging equipment also manufacture cath labs. You can find cath labs from GE, Philips, Siemens as well as Canon Medical (former Toshiba).

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