Diagnostic Catheterizations

A cardiac catheterization "Cath" is a procedure used to diagnose or treat a blood vessel problem in your heart.   Cardiac Catheterization is always paired with a procedure call angiography.  A cardiac cath and angiography may be needed when your doctor wants to:

  • Diagnose or evaluate Coronary artery disease
  • Diagnose or evaluate congenital heart defects
  • Diagnose or evaluate problems with the heart valves
  • Diagnose causes of heart failure or cardiomyopathy

A coronary angiogram shows how blood flows through the heart's coronary arteries, the blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle.  A special kind of dye (contrast) is injected into the coronary arteries.  A specific type of X-ray machine (fluoroscope) rapidly takes a series of images (angiograms).  This provides a detailed look at the inside of the arteries.

Recovery from a catheterization procedure is usually quick.  Many people are able to resume most of their normal activities 24 hours after the procedure.  As the insertion site heals, some people experience bruising and feel a small, hard lump.  This is normal and will go away in a few days.

If any of the following are experienced, it is very important to call our office or go to the emergency room.

  • Bleeding at the insertion site
  • Increased pain
  • Any complaint of chest pain (call 9-1-1)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling cold, have swelling, or numbness on the arm or leg of the insertion site
  • The bruising or lump at the insertion site gets larger
  • Fever over 100o F
  • Return of arrhythmia symptoms

Be sure to talk with your doctor so that you thoroughly understand all of the risks and benefits associated with the catheterization procedure.