Many patients with heart disease do not require surgery. They often can benefit, however, from interventional procedures performed in MedStar St. Mary's Hospital's Cardiac Catheterization lab.

Similar to an operating room, the cath lab is a sterile procedure room. But while the hospital's operating rooms are meant to accommodate traditional surgical procedures requiring incisions and anesthesia, the cath lab is designed for minimally invasive endovascular procedures guided by rapid X-ray imaging.

During a procedure, X-rays are captured 15 to 30 times a second. The X-rays are converted into high-definition images and transmitted to a screen. The interventional cardiologist and cath lab team can view this screen to see what's going on inside the patient in real time. The lab is the setting for diagnostic procedures, as well as heart treatments including life-saving emergency coronary angioplasty and elective coronary angioplasty.