Cardiac catheterization is performed to further evaluate coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, congestive heart failure, and/or certain congenital (present at birth) heart conditions, such as atrial septal defect or ventricular septal defect, when other less invasive types of diagnostic tests indicate the presence of one of these conditions.
During a cardiac catheterization (often called cardiac cath), a very small hollow tube, or catheter, is advanced from a blood vessel in the groin or arm through the aorta into the heart. Once the catheter is in place, several diagnostic techniques may be used. The tip of the catheter can be placed into various parts of the heart to measure the pressures within the chambers. The catheter can be advanced into the coronary arteries and a contrast dye injected into the arteries.
The use of fluoroscopy (a special type of X-ray, similar to an X-ray “movie”) assists the doctor in locating any blockages in the coronary arteries as the contrast dye moves through the arteries. The person remains awake during the procedure, although a small amount of sedating medication will be given prior to the procedure to ensure the patient remains comfortable during the procedure.
A cardiac catheterization may be performed to assist in the diagnosis of atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, or valvular heart disease. A cardiac catheterization may also be performed if you have recently had cardiac symptoms such as chest pain or angina, shortness of breath, dizziness or fatigue.Previous Page Last Review Date: August 14, 2019