Cardiac Catheterization

Also known as: Heart cath

Cardiac catheterization, often referred to as "heart cath," is an X-ray study of the heart used to diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions.

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.

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.

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