Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates

Cardiac Catheterization

» What is cardiac catheterization?
» Why is cardiac catheterization performed?
» How does the test work?
» What will the results tell me?

What is cardiac catheterization?

In cardiac catheterization (also called heart catheterization), a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is put into a blood vessel in your arm, groin or neck and guided up to your heart. The catheter lets your doctor examine the heart or blood vessels to diagnose problems, take samples or even perform some repairs.

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Why is cardiac catheterization performed?

Cardiac catheterization is most often used to:

  • Determine whether there are any complications from a heart attack
  • Determine whether you are a candidate for bypass surgery or for valve repair or replacement
  • Collect blood samples from inside your heart
  • Take a biopsy from your heart
  • Open blockages (using balloon angioplasty and stents)
  • Find congenital defects
  • Look for signs of valve disease
  • Check blood flow and pressure

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How does the test work?

You will probably be asked not to eat or drink anything for 6–8 hours before the test. It will be performed in a special operating room called a cath lab, where you'll lie flat on a table.

You will be given some medication to help you relax, then you will receive a shot of local anesthetic in the area where the catheter will be inserted. After you feel numb, a small cut will be made and the catheter will be put in.

What happens next will depend on the reason for the catheterization. You will be sedated but awake throughout the procedure, and at times you may be asked to deep breaths, hold your breath for a few seconds, cough or place your arms in various positions.

You should not feel anything as the catheter is being guided to your heart, so be sure to alert your medical team if you feel any pain.

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What will the results tell me?

The results will depend on the purpose of the catheterization, and your doctor will explain them to you and discuss any next steps.

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For more information about Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates or to make an appointment, please call us at 713-441-1100 or 888-361-4375, or contact us online.