Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory Facility Design and Equipment Selection

Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory Facility Design and Equipment Selection

Marsha L. Knapik, RN, MSN, CCRN, Consultant,
Health Care Visions, Ltd., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

There are many practical concerns that must be addressed in order for a facility to create or expand their diagnostic and interventional cardiology services. In this article, we will examine two main questions:

1. What is the best facility design for efficient and safe, cost-effective care?

2. What equipment and equipment features are most appropriate to meet program needs?

Facility Design for Efficient and Effective Care

While facility design is often limited by available space (square footage) and its location, there are some design features that are critical to the efficient use of space. It is essential for the procedure room and control room to be adjacent to each other, with storage space as well as the clean and soiled utility areas located within the immediate cardiac catheterization suite area. However, if there are space limitations, additional storage, patient holding areas, the family waiting area, staff locker/lounge area, offices, image archival storage and physician changing areas may be located nearby. The ideal situation is to allow for all areas to be located in one centralized suite.

Procedure Room. The catheterization laboratory procedure room should provide ample space for the equipment, in-room storage and movement of the patient into and out of the room via stretcher or patient bed. The American College of Cardiology recommends 500-600 square feet for the procedure area and 150-200 square feet allotted to the control room. These recommendations allow for adequate space, but are overridden by any state regulations that define space allocation.

Items for consideration in the procedure room include in-room storage cabinetry, standing-height counter space, a clinical sink, and positioning of computer drops for hospital information system terminals. Multiple computer drops should be installed at the time of construction or renovation, even if there is not an immediate plan to install terminals. Likewise, at least one phone line into the procedure room itself is recommended.

If your lab is performing permanent pacemaker insertions or some of the more advanced percutaneous aortic repair procedures in this setting, ventilation and airflow must meet operating room standards.

The placement of gases and suction outlets in the procedure room should also be given attention. Often, in positioning equipment to allow for full movement of the C-arm, gases off the wall are too far away from the table, requiring the use of tubing extenders that can loop across the room and pose a safety hazard. There are several solutions to this problem, including under the table gases (coming off of the equipment table base), power columns, and overhead swing-arm booms or overhead retractable booms. Often, room design, equipment specifications, and layout will determine the best method to supply gases.

As with the gases, the positioning of electrical outlets is critical. Several should be included in the boom or column selected for the gases, several placed below or on the procedure table base, and multiple additional outlets need to be placed throughout the room, including several above the countertop.

Consider the use of an automated medication distribution system (e.g., Pyxis [San Diego, CA]) located either in the procedure room or shared in the equipment room. This allows for security, easy access, and better inventory management and charging of medications.

Equipment Storage Space. If two procedure rooms are being designed, a side-by-side configuration with a shared equipment storage space between the two rooms provides for equipment ease of access and allows for streamlined inventory management. The equipment storage space should be lined with an electrical power strip to allow for multiple plug access to keep any battery powered/charging equipment accessible. The equipment storage area should also be configured with cabinetry to hold catheters, guiders, balloons, stents and guidewires. Many laboratories prefer to use movable wire shelving that allows for changes in configuration as a result of changing inventory and/or changes in supplies.

Control Room. The control room is another critical space. The room should be of adequate size to allow staff movement and required equipment (such as imaging control panels and hemodynamic monitors), but an overly large control room invites visitors (vendors, other staff, other physicians) who can be a distraction during a case.

While procedure rooms may be side-by-side or back-to-back, it is not advisable to have a single control room that supports multiple procedure rooms. Again, this can be a distraction when the activity in one of the rooms is of an urgent or high-risk nature. Some state regulations prohibit a shared control room.

The control room floor should also be elevated by one or two steps to allow for full visualization of the field. An elevated floor also allows for computer and monitor cables to be run underneath. The window for viewing into the procedure room should be as large as the space will allow, making sure that the viewing space is also low enough to allow visualization of the table from the elevated angle. The preferred position for the control room in relation to the procedure room is at the foot end of the patient table. This allows for full viewing of the field, regardless of whether the physician works on the left or right side of the table. From this foot position, the staff member in the control room has a view that is unrestricted by the backs of staff members working at the table or overhead hanging monitors, as is sometimes the case in control rooms positioned on one side of the procedure room.

As with the procedure room, multiple computer drops and a minimum of one phone line should also be installed in the control room. Multiple phone lines may be beneficial when dictation of reports is provided by phone access.

Patient Holding. Additional space for patient holding to provide pre-procedure assessment and immediate post procedure care is essential and can be designed in several ways. Many cardiac catheterization laboratories provide only Stage I recovery (immediate post-procedure vital sign and anesthesia recovery monitoring) in the holding area. If that is the case, a minimum of two beds or stretchers per procedure room is needed to facilitate patient flow in and out of the lab. Some facilities admit outpatients directly to the cath lab area and recover Stage I and Stage II (ongoing monitoring for the remainder of the recovery period) patients as well as discharge outpatients from this area. In the latter case, the number of beds required should be based on average daily case volumes and should allow for efficient patient flow, eliminating waiting for a bed situations. (Space constraints often limit the ability of a facility to use the holding area in this manner.)

The holding area should contain a small nurses station area to allow for documentation, computer terminals, a scheduling secretary, etc. Patient bays should preferably be walled cubicles with breakaway doors. This will allow for increased patient privacy in light of the newest HIPAA regulations. The patient bays should also be equipped with gases, call light, monitors (including EKG, NIBP and SaO2), stretchers and a small storage cart or cabinet. Multiple computer drops and phone lines should also be installed at the nurses station area. Consideration should also be given to providing for computer drops in each patient bay to allow for bedside terminals, if not currently, then in the future. Many cardiac catheterization holding areas have added televisions and tranquility lighting to create a more patient-friendly and soothing environment.

Family Waiting Area. The final area to be discussed is the need for a family waiting area that is in close proximity to the procedure room. This allows the family to feel they are close to the patient and makes it easier for the cardiologist to visit the family post procedure to explain procedure results and treatment options. Again, keeping in mind HIPAA regulations related to patient confidentiality, there should be at least one private consult room to which the family can be directed for confidential physician/family discussions. Many facilities are also equipping the consult room with a phone and a computer terminal/review station so that the cardiologist can actually show the patient’s procedure images to the family. This consult room would require a lock mechanism (either a key, keypad or digital) to maintain equipment security and patient confidentiality. Computer drops and phone lines should be added to the family waiting area as well.

Three other issues that do warrant mention here are:

1. The need for automatic doors into and out of the suite;

2. The need for extra-wide doors into the procedure room

3. The need for several types of room lighting.

Automatic doors allow for ease of stretcher and bed movement with a single staff person. They are also useful in emergencies, when additional hands need to be focused on the patient. Extra-wide (usually two-panel) doors leading into the procedure room allow for ease of patient movement. The doors will more easily accommodate a patient in a critical care bed or utilizing adjunct support equipment such as a ventilator or intra-aortic balloon pump requiring multiple staff for transport.

In-room lighting should include not only the usual overhead fluorescents, but additional soft perimeter lighting with dimming capability (used during the procedure) and an overhead surgical spotlight (usually provided by the imaging equipment vendor). It is preferable to have tableside foot controls for the lighting as well.

A final major consideration is the proximity and size of the elevators that will service this area. Quick access to elevators to receive patients is essential. The elevator size must be able to accommodate patients on beds or stretchers with support equipment such as intra-aortic balloon pumps and IV poles, as well as transport personnel.

Equipment Selection for the Cardiac Angiography Suite

The major pieces of equipment for the cardiac catheterization laboratory can carry a price tag of more than a million dollars and have numerous options and configurations. Making an informed decision on these items is critical to the usefulness of the room as well as the satisfaction of the users, physicians as well as staff. While there are several pieces of equipment to be placed in the procedure room, this article will concentrate on the imaging equipment, hemodynamic monitoring equipment, and data/imaging archival. These pieces of equipment should be reviewed through an RFP (Request for Proposal) process that will allow the equipment to be compared on an apples-to-apples basis as much as possible. The RFP pricing should be followed by individual vendor presentations and site visits to see the equipment in use. Included in the RFP process should be a request for a list of contact names and phone numbers of hospitals currently using the equipment under consideration.

Imaging Equipment


Bashore TM. (chair) Task Force, American College of Cardiology/Society for Cardiac Angiography and Interventions Clinical Expert Consensus Document on Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory Standards. J Amer Coll Cardiol 2001;37(8).

High Performance Digital Flat-Panel Detectors Revolutionize X-Ray Imaging in Cardiology. X-Ray Technology Update, GE Medical Systems, February 2000.Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM), National Electrical Manufacturers Association, 2001.

kiloka2000says: December 30.2009 at 03:49 am

it is quite educative hope consultants will refer to it while designing systems.

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syed zulfiqar musavisays: July 10.2012 at 05:20 am

Dear i am an electrical engineer and working on site which is an institute of cardiology at pakistan .The project is under construction so i want information about new equipments placed at cath lab & also at O.TS thks if you can help me providing me some knowledge.i will be very great full to you .

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Mark Paul MDsays: April 20.2011 at 02:44 am

Currently I am planning to install and operate one in 12 months in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Thus your information paper is very timely and practical. I am planning to set up a committee, comprising a business partner from Australia, myself as the CEO of the Medical Centre, a Consultant Cardiologist and a HIS consultant. This committee will travel to see 3 cardiac cath lab sites, one in Sydney Australia, second in Singapore and a third site in Loma Linda hospital LA, USA.

I require further advise on the cardiac applications

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Anu Chandrasekharsays: June 13.2011 at 02:47 am

Dear Mark,

Recently we have planned and executed a complete cardiology department in our hospital. This is an exclusive suite for the interventional cardiology programm. The area consisting of 2 nos Cathlab with common control room and console. We have 6 nos of cardiology OPD with one Chief cardiologist. Also we have Op procedure rooms like TMT, ECHO, ECG etc along with the OPD. The entire area / department is handles by Cardiac secretary located on the same floor.

If you would like to get more, I'm happy to share my experience with you.

Anu Chandrasekhar
Health Care Consultant
Apple Health Care
MBCRA: 99, Mamangalam,
Cochin – Kerala, INDIA - 682 025
Ph: +919633011311
Office: +914844055758
Email: [email protected]

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Majella A. Vito, MBA BSN RNsays: November 19.2012 at 23:02 pm

Hello Dr. Paul,
I was intrigued by your venture to open cath labs in 3 distinct locations. I have been a Cath Lab Nurse for close to 5 years (one year as Cath Lab Manager). How are your ventures coming along? I wish you the very best. My MBA degree is in International Business and I am hoping an opportunity to blend my nursing & business experiences presents itself, perhaps someday.

Majella A. Vito, MBA BSN RN

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zamrisays: May 6.2013 at 05:27 am

Since you travel to Singapore why not visiting our National Heart Institue where we have 8 cath lab with one hybrid cath lab hence singapore very closed to KL

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dr praveen jainsays: February 27.2013 at 12:34 pm

I am planning to start cath lab. I wonder if u can guide and give some tips.

Dr Praveen Jain

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Dr Pratik Soni' MD, DM, FACCsays: March 31.2013 at 16:08 pm

Hi Dr Jain I have designed small 40 to 50 beds dedicated heart centers in varid locations in india and abroad. I have even staffed some of them. And in few I taught the local cardiologists the procedures for a period ranging from 6 months to 3 years before handing it over to the owners. The latest I did was for a university based in north india. My phone is 9888821234 and email is [email protected]
Will be keen to setup one for you.

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