Introduction

The Hartford Cardiac Laboratory Cardiology Group is comprised of 7 physicians specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. The Cardiac Laboratory facilities are physically located in the Hartford Hospital (Hartford Connecticut) and comprised the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, the Exercise and Nuclear Stress Testing Laboratory, and the Echocardiographic Laboratory. The outpatient physician offices are located at 85 Seymour Street, Suite 1020 directly across the street from the Hartford Hospital. The physicians are collectively responsible for the supervision of performance of 4000 diagnostic and interventional angiographic procedures, 3000 pharmacologic and exercise stress tests, and over 5000 echocardiographic studies on a yearly basis. In addition to the geographic full-time support, physician coverage is available 24 hours a day for emergency echocardiographic and catheterization studies. Patients with acute coronary syndromes and heart attacks are brought immediately to the cardiac catheterization laboratory where blood flow is restored to a blocked artery with coronary angioplasty and stent implantation.

History of the Cardiac Laboratory

The cardiopulmonary laboratory at Hartford Hospital was developed in 1954 by Dr. Charles McLean with a branch from 5 local insurance companies including The Hartford, Travelers, The Phoenix, Aetna., and Connecticut Mutual. The 5 insurance companies contributed $5000 apiece for a total of 5 years thus providing a total of $125,000 for the project over 5 years. The original cost of equipment totaled $24,500. In February 1954 the first cardiopulmonary technician was hired and the first spirogram was performed in the laboratory. The first arterial blood study was performed in March of 1954. On June 29, 1954 the first catheterization was performed on a 33-year-old female with rheumatic heart disease and mitral valve stenosis. During the remainder of that year a total of 16 catheterizations were performed. In those days studies were performed on the right side of the heart (venous side) and took 5-7 hours to complete.

On February 3, 1956 for the first time a left heart catheterization was performed by inserting a needle through the chest wall into the apex of the heart and measuring a pressure directly within the left ventricle of the heart. In September of 1956 the laboratory obtained its first image intensifier allowing the output from an x-ray tube to be directly transmitted and viewed on a television screen. This led the way to visualization of the coronary arteries. It was also in 1956 that Dr. McLean pass a catheter across the aortic valve into the left ventricle and performed coronary angiography on a laboratory animal. In 1966 the first coronary studies were performed in the Cardiac Laboratory at Hartford Hospital.

From October 1966 in October of 1967 a total of 176 catheterizations were performed in the cardiac laboratory with 70 of the studies including coronary angiography. Currently nearly 4000 catheterization procedures are performed on an annual basis with over 1500 interventions.