Why it's doneBy Mayo Clinic staff
Cardiac catheterization is done to see if you have a heart problem, or as a part of a procedure to correct a heart problem your doctor already knows about.
If you're having cardiac catheterization as a test for heart disease, your doctor can:
- Locate narrowing or blockages in your blood vessels that could cause chest pain (angiogram)
- Find out the amount of oxygen in your heart (hemodynamic assessment)
- Test the pressure inside your heart
- Take a sample of tissue from your heart (biopsy)
- Diagnose heart defects present from birth (congenital heart defects)
- Look for problems with your heart valves
Cardiac catheterization is also used as part of some procedures to treat heart disease. These procedures include:
- Angioplasty with or without stent placement. Angioplasty involves temporarily inserting and expanding a tiny balloon at the site of your blockage to help widen a narrowed artery. Angioplasty is usually combined with implantation of a small metal coil called a stent in the clogged artery to help prop it open and decrease the chance of it narrowing again (restenosis).
- Closure of holes in the heart. Some congenital heart defects involving holes in the heart can be treated by threading a catheter to the hole to close it, rather than having open-heart surgery.
- Repair or replace leaky heart valves. Using cardiac catheterization, doctors can repair or replace a leaking or narrowed heart valve. Sometimes, doctors will use catheterization to fix a leaking replacement valve.
- Balloon valvuloplasty. This procedure can open narrowed heart valves by threading a balloon-tipped catheter to the part of your heart valve that's narrowed and inflating it.
- Heart arrhythmia treatment (ablation). Ablation is a procedure that scars your heart tissue to re-route the electrical signals that cause your heart to beat. Radiofrequency energy (heat), a laser or nitrous oxide (extreme cold) is applied through the catheter tip to the abnormal heart tissue. The energy destroys (ablates) the abnormal heart tissue causing the heart rhythm disorder.
- Blood clot treatment (thrombectomy). In this procedure, your doctor inserts a catheter into an artery and guides it to a blood clot in a blood vessel. Attachments on the catheter remove the blood clot.
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- Coronary angiography. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/ca/ca_all.html. Accessed Aug. 26, 2010.
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