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Cardiac Catheterization

Also known as: Diagnostic cardiac catheterization, Cardiac Cath, Cath, or Coronary Angiogram

Duration: About 30 minutes (or longer depending on complexities)

Cardiac Cath is a term used for a group of tests to assess the health of the heart’s chambers, valves, and blood vessels. It provides your cardiologist with detailed information to plan for further assessments and/or treatments.

Diagnostic Catheterization Types:

A mild sedative will be given so that you can relax while you remain awake during the procedure.

  • Coronary Angiogram – is the most frequently performed catheterization procedure. It can diagnose as well as treat heart conditions. A catheter is a thin, long tube that is placed in the blood vessels of your arms, legs, or groin. An x-ray camera is used to monitor the catheter as it is moved along the vessel until it reaches the coronary arteries in your heart. A contrast dye is then infused so that the heart chambers, valves, and coronary arteries can be seen. The cardiologist can visualize if there are any stenosis/narrowings or blocks in the heart vessels and assess the severity of the disease. If an artery (or arteries) is blocked, you may require an additional procedure to open them up called balloon angioplasty.
  • Intra-Vascular Ultrasound (IVUS) – an ultrasound probe is connected to the end of the catheter to check whether there are any narrowings or blockages in the coronary artery if required. This is useful in determining further evaluations.
  • Fractional Flow Reserve (FFR) – if required, a wire is passed past a questionably narrow artery so that blood flow and pressures can be compared to check if there is a necessity for any further evaluation.
  • Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) – a probe that gives off light waves is connected to the catheter to produce a more defined image and gives details on what’s going on inside the heart vessels if required.
  • Vascular Functioning Test (VFT)


  • To evaluate chest pain
  • To treat a heart attack by a coronary angioplasty with (or without) stent placement
  • To check for blocks or narrowings in the heart vessels
  • To check the squeezing/pumping action of the heart
  • To check if the heart valves are functioning properly
  • To diagnose congenital heart defects
  • To biopsy the heart

Cardiac Catheterization is also performed in combination with:

Preparing for the test: 

Download Pre Cath Instructions

After the test: 

Download Post Cath Instructions

Note: Directions and parking instructions will be provided in our office

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InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. What happens during cardiac catheterization? 2016 Mar 9 [Updated 2016 Mar 9]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK355300/
Manda YR, Baradhi KM. Cardiac Catheterization Risks and Complications. [Updated 2020 Jun 22]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531461
O’Gallagher K, Dancy L, Pearce L, Milton P, Byrne J. Interpretation of cardiac catheterisation reports: a guide for primary care. Br J Gen Pract. 2017;67(663):481-482. doi:10.3399/bjgp17X693053
Cullen MW, et al. Transvenous, antegrade melody valve-in-valve implantation for bioprosthetic mitral and tricuspid valve dysfunction. Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Interventions. 2013;6:598
Tavakol M, Ashraf S, Brener SJ. Risks and complications of coronary angiography: a comprehensive review. Glob J Health Sci. 2012;4(1):65-93. Published 2012 Jan 1. doi:10.5539/gjhs.v4n1p65
Mankad SV, et al. Transcatheter mitral valve implantation in degenerated bioprosthetic valves. Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography. 2018;31:845.