Boston's only all-digital cardiac catheterization laboratory is helping to provide faster, safer imaging for the more than 7,500 Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center patients undergoing coronary angiography, stent placement and other common cardiac procedures.
State-of-the-art digital, flat panel technology enables cardiologists to view images of blocked blood vessels with a clarity and precision that was once impossible to imagine. And patients also benefit from the fact that interventional cardiologists are able to view hard-to-visualize structures from many different angles while also using lower X-ray doses.
The machines work by shooting an X-ray bean through the patient into a flat-panel detector, which transforms the X-ray into light. The light then becomes a series of electronic charges, each representing one piece of the picture. A sophisticated ultra-low noise system "reads" and converts the charges piece by piece and sends them to a real-time image processor that displays them.
"The enhanced quality of the images is like that of high-definition television, compared to conventional television," says Joseph Carrozza, M.D., chief of interventional cardiology. "Digital labs give doctors a better chance of identifying critical detail, which reducing the patient's exposure to radiation by up to 60 percent."