Cardiac catheterization involves threading a long, thin tube (a catheter) through an artery or vein in your leg or arm into the heart. Once this has been done, different procedures may be done to diagnose or treat coronary artery disease, including:
- Injecting dye through the catheter to see the heart and its arteries (coronary angiography and angioplasty)
- Sending electrical impulses through the catheter to study irregular heartbeats (electrophysiology studies)
- Pacemaker and implantable defibrillator insertion
- Percutaneous closure of defects in the septal wall of the heart.
- Balloon valvuloplasty of valves that have become tight
Heart catheterization helps diagnose disease affecting the function of the heart's muscles, walls and valves as well as the coronary arteries that feed blood to the heart.
Catheterization paired with angiography can be used in blood vessels outside the heart as well. For example, a catheter may be threaded into your carotid artery for a carotid arteriography to see the blood vessels that lead to the brain.
Often, doctors use the terms cardiac catheterization, angiography and arteriography to mean the same thing.
The For Patients section of this website has instructions for preparing for cardiac catheterization, angiography and electrophysiology studies.