In addition to treating coronary artery disease, a catheterization procedure can serve as a diagnostic tool. This comprehensive test can show: narrowings in the arteries, outside heart size, inside chamber size, pumping ability of the heart, ability of the valves to open and close and pressure measurement within the heart.
Each year more than 2,500 procedures are performed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory at the University of Maryland Heart Center in downtown Baltimore. From angioplasty to stent placement, patients are receiving top-quality, individualized care in a technologically advanced facility.
"We are good at catheter-based interventions, but what sets us apart is how good we are at thoroughly treating each patient as an individual. We think about the whole patient," explains cardiologist David Zimrin, M.D., director of Cardiac Catheterization at the University of Maryland Heart Center and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "We always remember that we are treating a person not just an angiogram."
During a catheterization procedure, a thin, flexible tube, or catheter, is inserted into an artery or vein in the patient's arm or leg. The catheter is then gently moved further into the arteries or the heart. It can be used as a diagnostic tool to figure out what is wrong with a patient's cardiovascular system or it can also be used as a form of treatment for coronary artery disease.
Listen to a podcast on cardiac catheterization with Dr. David Zimrin.
Retired lawyer Dennis Belman has undergone multiple cath lab procedures over 15 years. He has a long-standing relationship with Dr. Zimrin. "Not only is he a terrific doctor, he is a terrific human being. I believe I am still here today because of his dogged determination to find out what was wrong with me. I had recently had bypass surgery and no one thought I could have another blockage so soon. I had more testing and it was ruled a benign condition, but Dr. Zimrin was not convinced." It turns out his hunch was right and Dennis Belman did have another blockage.
Like Mr. Belman, every Heart Center patient is given careful consideration despite the large number of patients coming into and going out of the cath lab. Dr. Zimrin, along with Barry Reicher, M.D. and Lawrence Stafford, M.D., are the cardiac catheterization physicians. They are assisted by a highly trained and experienced team of nurses, radiology techs and support staff.