WESTMINSTER — Physicians at Carroll County General Hospital soon will have a new tool that will enable them to better detect and treat patients' heart and blood vessel disorders.
Hospital officials say they hope the opening later this fall of the angiography and cardiac catheterizationlab will keep Carroll patients with cardiovascular problems from seeking treatment outside the county.
"We found that the No. 1 reason patients were leaving the county was to have these two procedures performed," said Linda Harder, CCGH vice president for marketing and planning.
Before, the hospital lacked equipment and personnel needed to perform cardiac catheterization and angiography, diagnostic procedures that allow physicians to seespecific blood vessels and organs in greater detail.
Now, using the "most sophisticated equipment available," Harder said, "we are able to offer these two key diagnostic procedures so that people can stay in the county and be treated."
Ken Geiger, administrative director of imaging, explained that angiography is a process of making liveX-ray pictures of blood vessels after injecting a dye into the veins.
By watching the picture, a trained technologist can detect insufficient blood supply and its effect on organs or parts of the body.
"The technologist locates and evaluates the problem and then makes a diagnosis to the vascular surgeon who can, in turn, supply the patient with the proper treatment," Geiger said.
Based on the evaluation, a vascular surgeon might prescribe medication, physical therapy or surgery to remove aneurysms or blockages, he said.
"We usually look for blockages that could result in an arm or leg loss," he said. If such a blockage were found, surgery creating a bypass for blood flow would be performed.
In cardiac catheterization, a catheter or needle is used to inject dye into a blood vessel that leads to the heart, giving a clear picture of the organ's pumping capabilities, the condition of its valves and the blood vessels.
The addition of these two procedures will round out the imaging services offered by the hospital and supplement its other diagnostic tests, Geiger said.
"These services were the missing link," he said. "We have had MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), nuclear medicine, ultrasound and CAT scan.
The angiography and cardiac catheterization lab, located behind thehospital lobby area, was completed in July.
But it will not be available to patients until hospital staffing requirements are met later this fall.
"To properly staff the lab, we need a nurse and a technologist who are specially trained in angiography and also a technologist trained in cardiac catheterization," Harder said.
The hospital expects to perform 200 to 250 cardiac catheterization procedures and about 300 angiography procedures the first year, she said.
"If we meet these projections, this means we are keeping approximately 500 people from going to other hospitals for these types of treatment,"Harder said.
The $2.7 million lab was funded in part through the 1990 Carroll County General Hospital Foundation Capital Campaign and a bond insured by the county.