Skip to main content

Cardiac Catheterization

Catheterization is a key diagnostic tool for cardiac health. Traditionally, a line is threaded through the femoral artery in the groin and up into the heart, requiring patients to lie flat for several hours and remain immobile for some time after the procedure.

This procedure may be done to:

  • Locate narrowing or blockages in blood vessels that could cause chest pain
  • Measure pressure and oxygen levels in different parts of the heart
  • Check the pumping function of the heart
  • Take a sample of cardiac tissue
  • Diagnose heart defects present from birth
  • Look for problems with heart valves

Cardiac catheterization is also used to treat heart disease in some cases. These procedures include:

  • Widening a narrowed artery with or without stent placement
  • Closing holes in the heart and fixing other congenital defects
  • Repairing or replacing heart valves
  • Opening narrow heart valves
  • Treating irregular heart rhythms with ablation
  • Closing off part of the heart to prevent blood clots

How does it work?

During the procedure:

  • The patient will receive IV medication to relax.
  • A nurse will clean a site on the patient’s arm, neck, or groin to insert a line into one of his or her veins.
  • A thin plastic tube called a sheath is placed into a vein or artery in the leg or arm. Then longer plastic tubes called catheters are carefully moved up into the heart using real time x-rays as a guide.
  • The physician may choose to collect blood samples, take measurements of blood flow or oxygen levels, examine the arteries, or perform a biopsy.

Some patients may be injected with a dye that helps the provider to visualize the structures and vessels within the heart.

What can I expect after treatment?

For patients having a diagnostic cardiac catheterization, a Deborah Specialty Physician will discuss the results of the test after the procedure is complete.