Cardiac Catheterization

Introduction and Uses

Cardiac catheterization may be used as a diagnostic or treatment procedure. It involves advancing a catheter, a thin flexible tube, into the right or left side of the heart. Cardiac catheterization can provide information about the functioning of the heart. Cardiac catheterization is performed with fluoroscopy, an imaging technique, to record pictures of the heart as it beats. The results may identify heart defects, heart disease, heart enlargement, blood clots (embolisms), coronary artery blockage, valve problems, or aneurysm. As a treatment procedure, cardiac catheterization may be used to repair heart defects, open valves, or open arteries.

Test Procedure

A cardiac catheterization usually takes place in the hospital. You will be asked not to eat or drink for 6 to 8 hours before your procedure.

You will receive a mild sedative, but will remain awake during the test. A local anesthetic will numb the area where the catheter is inserted. The catheter may be inserted in an artery in your arm or groin area. You will be asked to remain still during the test. Your doctor will insert a dye to allow your heart and blood vessels to be viewed on an X-ray video picture. When the test is completed, the catheter is removed. Your doctor will review your results with you.


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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit