Cardiovascular Technologist

What does a Cardiovascular Technologist Actually Do?

A cardiovascular technologist – also often referred to as a CVT – assists a cardiologist who is performing invasive cardiology, both diagnostic and interventional. CVTs use very specialized equipment and under the supervision of the MD help diagnose or treat various forms of acquired or congenital heart disease. Their work is performed in a cardiac catheterization laboratory, more commonly referred to as a cath lab.

How does a Cardiovascular Technologist Help in Emergency Situations?

There are many occasions when invasive cardiac procedures must be performed on an emergency basis. In this situation there will be a number of medical professionals involved and there are actually several different roles that a cardiovascular technologist may be asked to fulfill.

  • Scrub Assistant – A CVT may be asked to “scrub in” and help with guidance and placement of catheters, guidewires, PTCA balloons and stents. They are supervised at all times by the leading cardiologist but in this situation the CVT plays a crucial supporting role.
  • Circulator – A “circulating person” may be responsible for giving the patient required medications and for the safe and sterile handling and dispersal of necessary supplies such as catheters, sheaths, balloons and stents.
  • Monitoring – Someone, usually a cardiovascular technologist, must be responsible for staying the cath lab “control room” and making accurate records of everything that goes on in the procedure room and noting all the materials that are used.

What Diagnostic Procedures does a CVT Assist in?

Many patients come to the cardiac cath lab to undergo diagnostic procedures. These include examining the coronary arteries and checking for blockages. Another reason is to evaluate the function and patency of heart valves. Finally, the heart muscle itself may be evaluated. The Cardiovascular technologist plays a central role in all of these tests.

The CVT is also usually the person responsible for obtaining an accurate medical history from the patient. This means that in addition to their technical skills the cardiovascular technologist has to have great people and listening skills as well.