What is a heart catheterization and why is it used?
Ashish Pershad, MD, is an interventional cardiologist at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix. For more information, talk with your doctor or call (602) 230-2273 (CARE).
Question : What is a heart catheterization and why is it used?
Answer: A heart catheter is a medical instrument that is used to conduct certain tests and treatments on the heart. Through a process called cardiac catheterization, the catheter, which is a long, thin, flexible tube, is inserted into a blood vessel in the arm or upper thigh and then directed to the heart.
Cardiac catheterization can be used in different ways to diagnose heart problems and repair them. A type of dye might be used in the catheter which flows through the blood to the heart. When viewed using X-ray technology, this dye helps make arteries on the surface of the heart visible and can show if any plaque, a type of build-up, is present in the arteries. Plaque in the arteries can create blockages or narrowing and restrict the flow of blood to the heart.
A cardiologist may also use ultrasound during a cardiac catheterization procedure to get detailed information about the type of plaque within the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the heart. Further, cardiac catheterization can be used to take blood or tissue samples from the heart and its blood vessels, and also to perform steps to fix blockages by using balloons, wires and stents.
Typically, cardiac catheterization is done in a hospital setting with little or no complications. Patients who undergo the procedure are usually awake and the procedure itself is relatively painless. Some patients will experience soreness in the blood vessel where the catheter was inserted but it generally resolves in a few days.