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Cardiac Catheterization

X-ray Study of the Heart

Cardiac Catheterization Lab Providence Heart & Vascular InstituteCardiac catheterization, often referred to as "heart cath," is an X-ray study of the heart that is done in our cardiovascular labs, especially designed for this procedure.

During the procedure, the cardiologist inserts a tiny, narrow soft plastic tube, called a catheter, into a blood vessel and advances it to a heart chamber or the coronary arteries. An X-ray camera photographs the heart’s anatomy while a clear liquid that blocks X-rays is passed through the catheter into the heart's arteries or chambers.

In addition to the cardiologist, the team includes specialized cardiac care nurses and registered cardiovascular and radiology technologists. The cardiovascular labs procedure rooms are equipped with specialized equipment: fluoroscopy, digital cameras, computers, a heart monitor and other necessary equipment.

Angiogram - A Road Map of Blood Supply to Your Heart

Cardiac catheterization evaluates the coronary arteries, heart valves and chambers of the heart. One of the results is a recorded image called an angiogram. The angiogram provides a road map of blood supply to the heart muscle. This map allows the physician to detect blockages in the coronary arteries and helps the physician recommend and plan appropriate treatment.

A heart cath usually takes about 30-60 minutes. However, you may be in the cardiovascular lab 1-2 hours for preparation, procedure and brief aftercare. You will be taken from the lab to the observation unit where the nursing staff will continue observation until you are ready for discharge later in the day. Your stay will usually be less than 24 hours. Some circumstances may require a longer stay.