Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Houston VA Opens State-of-the-Art Cardiac Intervention Laboratory

August 24, 2004

Houston VA Opens State-of-the-Art Cardiac Intervention Laboratory

Released: 2004/08/24

Dr. James W. Scheurich
Dieter Lubbe, M.D., assistant director of the MEDVAMC Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, performs an angioplasty procedure in the new laboratory that incorporates a technologically advanced x-ray system for capturing and viewing detailed images of a patient's coronary structure. This equipment speeds diagnoses reduces radiation dose, and provides faster imaging times. Photo by: Bobbi Gruner

HOUSTON - The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) recently opened a new state-of-the-art cardiac intervention laboratory in response to the growing number of veterans needing specialized cardiac care. Heart disease is one of the nation's largest health problems and the leading cause of death for all Americans aged 35 and older. According to the 2000 Census, the median age of all veterans living in the United States was 43.5. Over 30 percent of the nearly 105,000 patients treated at MEDVAMC have coronary artery disease, 10 percent have clinically significant peripheral arterial disease, and 11 percent have heart failure.

The MEDVAMC uses an interdisciplinary approach to provide veterans with education, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation for heart disease. Cardiac procedures performed in the Cardiac Intervention Lab balance, extend, or replace therapies that previously relied on major surgery. Many patients, who might not have been suitable for surgery, can now be treated using new techniques. These minimally invasive approaches on blood vessels in the heart and other major arteries lower the risks and shorten recovery time compared with traditional surgical approaches. Other benefits include shorter hospital stays, earlier return to work, less pain and infection, and no surgical scarring. Procedures are typically performed using a catheter (a small-diameter tube) threaded inside the blood vessels to reach the affected area. Tools needed to visualize or repair the vessel can be passed through this tube directly to the diseased areas.

The new MEDVAMC laboratory incorporates a technologically advanced x-ray system for capturing and viewing detailed images of a patient's coronary structure. MEDVAMC physicians are now able to use this equipment to see and work inside and near the heart and in other major arteries, making diagnoses, opening blocked vessels, and dissolving or fragmenting blood clots.

A key component of the new lab is flat detector technology, offering sharper, more detailed x-ray images. This equipment speeds diagnoses, reduces radiation dose, and provides faster imaging times. It is fully digital and plays an important role in offering heart patients a safe and effective alternative to surgery. The new x-ray system works along side an innovative image storage system, which allows for rapid retrieval and viewing of previous cardiac catheterization results from key areas in the hospital such as the Cardiac Care Unit and the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. These images can also be exchanged via special Intranet connections with other VA medical facilities providing opportunities for consultation at a distance.

Installation of the new laboratory is part of a continuing upgrade of MEDVAMC cardiac facilities. High-tech vascular imaging system and hemodynamic monitoring equipment were installed last year, a new hospital-wide telemetry system is nearly complete, and renovations of the electrophysiology laboratory will begin in the near future.

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Point of Contact: VHAHOU Public Affairs

08/24/2004