Emergency angioplasty: inside the catheter lab

Rachel Patterson

A radiographer, cardiac physiologist and assisting nurse in the catheter lab at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital explain their roles in an angioplasty.

Radiographer Rachel Patterson says:

I control the X-ray machine, moving the table and the machine to make sure the cardiologist gets the pictures that he needs. I also make sure the patient is okay and give them a bowl if they are feeling sick or mop their brow if they are hot.

I’ve been a radiographer for nine years and in cardiology for four years. I love my job. It’s rewarding because the patient comes in feeling poorly and as soon as you open the artery to put the stent in, they feel better.

It’s an important life-saving service that we provide and we know we are giving the best treatment

They are always very grateful. It’s an important life-saving service that we provide and we know we are giving the best treatment.

I became interested in cardiology because my dad had a heart attack when he was 52 and a bypass 16 years ago when he was 54. I used to come and visit him in hospital and it made me want to work in one. By doing this job, I feel I’m giving something back on behalf of my dad.

Assisting nurse Diane Brown says:

Assisting nurse Diane BrownI prepare the patient for the procedure in the catheter lab. This involves cleaning their arm and leg, putting the sterile drapes on and preparing the different lines and catheters. I also explain everything to the patient and help to reassure them.

Once the cardiologist has inserted the catheter, I help with feeding the catheters up to the heart and preparing the stents. At the end of the procedure, I take the tube out of the patient and quickly stop the bleeding. The time taken varies but the average is about an hour. I think in Brian’s case it was an hour and a half but every case is different.

Cardiac physiologist Angela Merrick says:

Cardiac physiologist Angela Merrick I wire up the patient to an ECG machine so we can monitor their heart rate and rhythm. I monitor them throughout the procedure and check to see that their rhythm stays normal. We keep a check on their blood pressure throughout too.

I love the variety of the job. All the patients are very different and you get some real characters.

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