Cardiac catheterization (also known as cardiac cath or heart cath) is a procedure to examine how well your heart is working. The procedure can help your doctor to diagnose and manage heart problems, such as:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart valve disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Certain congenital (present at birth) heart conditions.
Cardiac catheterization provides your doctor with more detailed information than other tests. During a cardiac cath, the doctor inserts a catheter (a thin, hollow tube) into a large blood vessel that leads to the heart. The doctor uses an X-ray or ultrasound imaging to guide the catheter to the heart.
In one procedure, the doctor advances the catheter into the coronary arteries and injects contrast dye. An X-ray called fluoroscopy allows the doctor to see blockages in the arteries as the dye moves through the arteries.
In another procedure, the doctor may place the tip of the catheter into different parts of the heart to measure the pressures and blood flow inside the heart’s chambers. This procedure can tell the doctor how much oxygen is in the blood, and provide information about the pumping ability of the heart muscle.
Our interventional cardiologists perform a range of advanced cardiac procedures in the cardiovascular (veins, heart and arteries) system. They are minimally invasive, meaning they do not require large incisions or instruments entering the body. The cardiologist inserts a catheter into a blood vessel in the arm, neck or groin and guides it to the heart using X-ray or ultrasound. The doctor inserts small, specialized tools or devices through the catheter to treat the problem.
Our doctors perform interventional cardiology procedures including:
Angioplasty and Stenting: A catheter is inserted into a blood vessel and guided to the heart or other areas of the body. The catheter has a balloon at the tip, which inflates to stretch the artery open and increase blood flow to the heart. The doctor then places a stent (a small metal mesh cylinder) into the vessel to keep it open.
Rotational Atherectomy: The doctor places a burr or rotary shaver at the tip of the catheter and guides it to the affected area to get rid of plaque that is built up in the artery walls. In some cases, a laser catheter is used to vaporize the plaque.
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR): This procedure is used to treat patients with severe narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve, who are too sick for traditional heart surgery. During the procedure, the doctor uses a small catheter to place a new aortic valve within the damaged valve to more effectively regulate blood flow in the heart.
Valvuloplasty: This procedure is done to open a stiff (stenotic) heart valve. The doctor inserts a catheter into a blood vessel in the groin and advances it into the heart. When the catheter reaches the stiff valve, the doctor inflates a balloon at the tip of the catheter until the flaps of the valve are pushed open. Once the valve opens, the doctor deflates the balloon and removes the catheter.
Thrombectomy: This procedure removes blood clots from arteries and veins. Blood clots can disrupt normal blood flow to a part of the body, causing life-threatening conditions such as a pulmonary embolism or acute stroke. During a thrombectomy, the doctor inserts a catheter into the blood vessel to remove the blockage and restore blood flow to the affected area.