VA Pittsburgh's staff cardiologists lead national efforts at VA to develop new treatment techniques. After a multi-million dollar project, the cardiac catheterization laboratory opened in December 31, 2005. We also provide cardiac care to patients referred from the VA Butler medical center.
We perform approximately 1,000 diagnostic catheterizations each year and place approximately 300 stents for patients who need elective or emergency catheterization.
Cardiac catheterization involves using a catheter — a long tube that can be threaded into the arteries — to insert miniature cameras and instruments into the heart or blood vessels. Using this method, we can diagnose blockages in the arteries that supply the heart. In many cases, we can restore blood flow to threatened heart tissues without invasive surgery by using a catheter to reopen a blocked artery and placing a stent to hold the artery open.
With two state-of-the-art Siemens laboratories, we provide the most modern technology to care for Veterans who are living with various cardiac conditions, including valvular heart disease, congestive heart failure, and life-threatening irregular heartbeats.
Our echocardiography laboratory uses ultrasound procedures for evaluating cardiac conditions such as valvular heart disease, coronary heart disease, and many other heart conditions. We perform the following procedures:
- Transthoracic echocardiogram. An ultrasound probe is placed on the chest and the heart is scanned from different angles to produce pictures of the heart’s walls, valves, and chambers.
- Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE). Minimally invasive alternative to assess conditions that are difficult to diagnose with a transthoracic echocardiogram.
- Stress echocardiogram. Administered under conditions that increase the heart’s workload to check if there are any blockages.
- Research echocardiogram. We participate in multiple research studies for echocardiograms.
A Holter monitor is a small, lightweight, battery-operated electromagnetic tape recorder that continuously records all ECG data for 24 hours. Holter monitoring is a non-invasive way to record a patient’s heart rhythm continuously for 24 hours. It allows the practitioner to examine the patient’s heart rhythm during ambulatory activity (while the patient is moving around) and with physical and psychological changes.
Holter monitoring is usually done when patients have symptoms of syncope (passing out), near-syncope (nearly passing out), dizziness, or recurrent palpitations. By monitoring a patient's heart rhythm for 24 hours, we can determine if a rhythm disturbance is causing the patient’s symptoms. We also use Holter monitoring to see how well pacemakers are working.
Holter monitors are applied in the ECG department, Monday through Friday, and are usually returned to the department the next day. The patient can mail the monitor back to the facility if travel is difficult.