If your doctor suspects the presence of a cardiovascular condition, he or she may suggest getting a cardiac catheterization, or coronary angiogram. Cardiac catheterization is an imaging procedure where a long, thin catheter is inserted into an artery or vein and threaded through your blood vessels leading to the heart. This procedure is typically performed to help your doctor evaluate the heart’s function and diagnose cardiovascular diseases or conditions. In some instances, cardiac catheterization is used as a heart disease treatment option, such as coronary angioplasty.
Why is cardiac catheterization performed?
- Locate blocked or narrowed blood vessels that could cause chest pain
- Evaluate the heart muscle’s function
- Diagnose and manage congenital heart defects
- Check for problems with the heart valves
- Measure pressure and oxygen levels in the heart chambers
- Heart tissue biopsy
- As a treatment option for some cardiovascular diseases
How cardiac catheterization is performed
Cardiac catheterization is usually performed while the patient is awake; however, local anesthetic and sometimes a mild sedative are used. The doctor will insert a catheter, which is a long, flexible tube, through a sterilized insertion site. This site can be in the neck, groin, or arm, depending on the reason for catheterization. Throughout the procedure, the doctor may ask the patient to take deep breaths, place arms in various positions, or cough. After the procedure is complete, the patient is usually taken into an outpatient recovery room, where he or she will lie flat for several hours. Most patients can go home the same day or the next morning.
Why is cardiac catheterization important?
The results of a cardiac catheterization procedure can help your doctor determine the severity of your heart condition and possible treatment options, such as medication, bypass surgery, or angioplasty.