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Cardiac Catheterization Lab

Your heart is in good hands at South County Hospital.

Our lab, which opened in January of 2009, is led by renowned Rhode Island cardiologist Stephen R. Fera, MD, who trains residents in this procedure at Brown University School of Medicine. Dr. Fera is also the Hospital's cath lab director. 

What is Cardiac Catheterization?

The heart catheterization procedure provides information about your heart’s structure and function, which is important for your diagnosis and management. Specialized X-ray imaging equipment and other devices are used to measure and record your heart function.

The procedure involves the insertion of a plastic tube, called a catheter, into one or more arteries or veins through a small incision or needle. Assisted by X-ray imaging, called fluoroscopy, the cardiologist guides the catheter into the chambers of the heart. The physician will also direct the catheter into the coronary arteries and inject X-ray contrast to visualize abnormalities of the artery. Types of catheterizations include right-heart cath, left-heart cath and valve cases.

For outpatient testing, contact Care New England Cardiology at 401-789-5770.

Transradial Catheterization

South County Hospital offers transradial catheterization, which offers significant benefits to patients needing this procedure. Instead of an incision in the femoral artery in the groin, the incision is made in the radial artery in the wrist. Only the most experienced and clinically skilled cardiologists routinely use transradial catheterization.

Benefits to transradial catheterization—which many patients do qualify for—include:

  • Lower risk of bleeding at the incision site
  • Less pain. Transradial cath patients wear a simple wrist compression device rather than a manual compression in the groin area, which can be painful.
  • Patients can move almost immediately after the procedure, while a femoral procedure requires patients to lie flat for hours. Transradial patients do not have to lie flat and can move around, walk to the bathroom, etc. soon after the procedure. To see if a patient qualifies for the transradial catheterization, the cardiologist will conduct the “Allen’s test,” during which the cardiologist compresses the ulnar artery for a few minutes then compares the color of the patient’s hands. The test is repeated with the radial artery. This test shows how well the blood circulates through the ulnar and radial arteries, which helps ensure they are healthy enough for this procedure.