The cardiac catheterization technologist works with physicians in the cardiac catheterization laboratory to diagnose and treat heart patients. Cardiac catheterization refers to the method of inserting small catheters through a needle into the blood vessels and into the heart so that X-rays, angiograms and other recordings can be taken to determine the heart's structure and function.
As a member of the cardiac catheterization team, the cardiovascular technologist serves as a surgical scrub assistant, monitors the patient's hemodynamic and physiologic condition, circulates and administers drugs, and operates additional laboratory equipment.
Cardiac Cath studies consist of diagnostic and interventional procedures such as coronary and cardiac angiography, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (in which a balloon catheter is used to open clogged arteries) and right heart catheterization (in which blood flow measurements are made).
The cardiac catheterization technologist also works with physicians in providing interventional cardiology, which attempts to save people from having heart attacks by restoring blood flow to diseased areas of the heart. The cardiovascular technologist assists with balloon angioplasty, gives clot-dissolving drugs and assists in other cardiac emergency procedures.
Upon completion of the didactic training, the student rotates through local medical centers participating in the program to complete the final quarters of clinical internship. Students take the CCI national registry exam upon graduation.