What is a Cardiac Catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization is a medical procedure your doctor can use to perform tests and treatments. In this test, a thin, flexible tube (called a catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel in your arm, groin, or neck and then threaded to your heart. Once there, your doctor can use the catheter to perform tests and treatments. For example, your doctor may inject dye into the catheter and take X-rays of your heart to test your arteries and look for plaque (coronary angiography). Your doctor may also look for blockages in the coronary arteries with ultrasound or take samples of heart muscle or blood. You’ll be awake during this procedure, but you won’t be in pain. After the procedure, you may have soreness in the area where the doctor inserted the catheter.

Why have a Cardiac Catheterization?

Cardiac caths provide information on how well your heart works. It identifies problems and allows for procedures to open blocked arteries. The following examples are some benefits to cardiac caths:

  • Take X-rays using contrast dye injected through the catheter to look for narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. This is called coronary angiography or coronary arteriography.

  • Perform a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) such as coronary angioplasty with stenting to open up narrowed or blocked segments of a coronary artery, especially someone with CTO (Chronic Total Occlusion)

  • Check the pressure in the four chambers of your heart.

  • Take samples of blood to measure the oxygen content in the four chambers of your heart.

  • Evaluate the ability of the pumping chambers to contract.

  • Look for defects in the valves or chambers of your heart.

  • Remove a small piece of heart tissue to examine under a microscope (biopsy).

For more information on cardiac caths or other heart related procedures, click the link below:


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