The arrival of the Catherization Laboratory is a major boost to the health care delivery system of the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) and the country as a whole.

This state of the art equipment that just arrived at the UTH Radiology (x- ray) Department is the first of its kind in Zambia and is also known as the Cath Lab. Catherization in simple terms is the insertion of catheters in the blood vessels.

Mr. Jacob Kazuma the Chief Radiographer at UTH gives a brief description of what this means for the operations of the department with comparisons to the conventional equipment currently in use and the just arrived lab.

With the current equipment being used, when doing x- rays, the staff are able to carry out procedures such as the barium swallow. This involves the patient swallowing barium to enable the radiologist view what is happening in the body using fluoroscopy. This occurs in “Real time”, meaning the imaging is captured immediately and can be seen occurring.

Mr Kazuma

Mr. Jacob Kazuma Chief Radiographer at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH)

Compared to the current equipment, the Cath lab is highly computerized and is able to digitally subtract any structure that is obscuring the blood vessels.

A good example of how the Cath lab works is in the repair of blood vessels in Stenosis, which is an abnormal narrowing of the blood vessels. In the past radiologists at UTH have not been able to detect and repair this problem but can now perform interventional procedures.

A catheter with a stent attached which has material that balloons is inserted in the patient and is stopped when it reaches the problem area identified. The radiologists are able to watch the material balloon the narrowed area on the monitors that are set up in the lab. The stent is then set in the area once they are satisfied and the catheter withdrawn.

“This will be multidisciplinary as it will involve a team of different members of staff such as interventional radiologists, vascular radiologists, anesthetists, theatre nurses and general surgeons,” Mr. Kazuma states.

Fully aware that some procedures are invasive, painful and uncomfortable, he emphasizes on the need for strict observing of hygiene.

Cath Lab

A picture of a Catherization Lab

When asked his for his personal thoughts on the arrival of the lab, Mr. Kazuma was happy to note that the lab helps in the expansion of the teaching profession as the staff are now able to teach using available examples rather than use pictures. He also acknowledged the financial relief the lab will provide on the burden faced by families who cannot afford to fly patients out of the country for certain procedures.

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This development is a welcome move for UTH as is undergoes modernization and it is hoped that this equipment can be regularly maintained and the environment around it monitored to ensure that people can benefit from it in years to come.