A cardiac catheterization (cardiac "cath") is a procedure designed to evaluate the condition of the heart muscle, the heart valves and the coronary arteries. During this procedure, the physician inserts small tubes (catheters) into arteries, veins or both, and then guides them into the heart chambers. The pressure and oxygen in the chambers are then measured and X-ray pictures of the chambers are taken. This part of the test allows the physician to evaluate the heart muscle and heart valves.
The second part of the procedure, called the coronary angiogram, is the part designed to evaluate the coronary arteries. Contrast material (sometimes called dye) is injected into the openings of the arteries while taking X-ray pictures. This allows the doctor to see the exact size and degree of blockage in the arteries.
Some catheterization labs also provide therapeutic procedures. At Calvert Memorial, we offer diagnostic cardiac catheterization with a physician's referral. Many catheterizations are needed only for diagnostic purposes. Your physician can help you decide if a catheterization at Calvert Memorial is right for you.
Our catheterizations are performed by a specialized cardiac catheterization team in our state-of-the-art laboratory. This specially designed room houses sophisticated monitoring equipment that allows us to observe the catheter at all times. Special recording equipment continuously records and displays your heartbeat and your blood pressure. Equipment is available for any emergency and the physician stays in the room throughout the procedure.