A cardiac catheterization is a procedure in which a small, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel. The catheter is usually put into a blood vessel in your groin (or sometimes your arm). Your doctor gently "steer" the catheter toward your heart and blood vessel test and procedures.
For instance, a cardiac catheterization is often in a angiogram. In an angiogram, your doctor injects dye through the catheter into your arteries to find any blockage. With a catheterization, your doctor can also:
- Measure blood pressure in your heart or lungs
- Take a tiny sample (or biopsy) of your heart muscle
- Determine how much oxygen is in your blood
- Measure the amount of blood flowing through your heart and blood vessels
- Do an electrophysiology (EP) study to check the electrical system in your heart
During a cardiac catheterization, your doctor may also treat any blocked blood vessels with one or more of these procedures to improve blood flow:
- An atherectomy- using a catheter with a butting tool to clear plaque from an artery
- A balloon angioplasty- using a catheter with a balloon that expands and presses plaque against the side of an artery
- A stent implant- inserting a tiny mesh tube into an artery to help keep it open after plaque has been cleared.
What can I expect?