A new catheterization lab is opening at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, which will expand capacity by 25 percent, bringing the number of cath labs at the Philadelphia campus to four.
The new lab reflects the increasing demand for procedures which can be performed without open heart surgery. “People want minimally invasive options,” said Jon George, MD, medical director of the Catheterization Laboratory. “Sometimes if you offer surgery as the only option, patients decline and don’t get treatment. If you are able to offer a less invasive option, they may be more willing to do it.”
While opening blocked arteries in the heart is now commonplace, newer technology has enabled interventionalists to expand the spectrum of minimally invasive therapies. Diseased heart valves can now be replaced without open heart surgery through catheters, and blockages in veins, the vessels that return blood back to the heart, are also treatable in the lab. All of these procedures are performed with a multi-disciplinary team in place, after discussion of the benefits and risks of open surgery versus minimally invasive procedures.
Furthermore, these options are particularly significant for Einstein, since the hospital’s ZIP code has one of the highest percentage of amputations in Pennsylvania. The expertise and therapies presently available in the Einstein cath lab can help patients with peripheral vascular disease avoid amputation.
The new lab will be the second hybrid lab at Einstein which can accommodate multiple procedures at the same time. It will allow, for instance, electrophysiologists—who treat disorders in heart rhythm through ablations and pacemakers—to work alongside general and interventional cardiologists, cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons, anesthesiologists and echocardiographers in complex cardiovascular cases involving multiple disciplines of medicine.
The combination of sophisticated technology, expert practitioners, and increased demand has created the need for an expanded cath lab. Einstein is among few hospitals in the country that can use a robotic arm to assist these complex procedures, which improves precision and accuracy and minimizes complications. “As we expand the breadth of what we do in the Cath Lab, we recognize that we have increased need for more work to be done,” Dr. George said.The new cath lab just recently began operation in late January.