By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER
By sending a small tube through an artery in the leg or arm, cardiologists at the new Sonora Regional Medical Center will soon be able to take pictures of a patient's heart.
The new procedure will take place in the hospital's cardiac catheterization lab, and will save patients the drive to the Central Valley to get the test.
Catheterization involves threading a small tube, or catheter, through an artery.
The tube weaves through the body to the heart.
Physicians view the procedure by X-ray to decide if a heart problem exists and determine how to treat it. The procedure is often called for after earlier stress or other heart tests come back with abnormal results.
"Our cardiologists have been going down and doing these procedures in Modesto," said Nikki Allen, SRMC's vice president for patient care services.
"They're very capable and current in these procedures."
X-rays taken in the cardiac catheterization lab will allow doctors to look at heart valves and arteries to diagnose problems that might previously have gone undetected until full-blown heart attacks occurred, Allen said. "They can diagnose early, at the first sign of symptoms."
Cardiologists James Co-mazzi, Brian Cole and Eugene Margolis will move into the hospital's new offices and be the lab's primary users, Allen said.
While the main portion of the hospital is scheduled to open in mid-January, the new cardiac catheterization lab won't take its first picture until May. The hospital is finishing construction on the surgical suite this spring, and the lab is part of that addition.
The lab and the new oncology center are being paid for with money from a local fund-raising campaign, Allen said.
"We'll be pleased to show this back to the community what they've donated to make this possible."
Contact Genevieve Bookwalter at gbookwalter@ uniondemocrat.com .