Cardiac catheterization is performed to evaluate heart function, the presence of heart disease, and the need for further treatment.

During the test, a long, narrow tube (catheter) is inserted through a plastic short, hollow tube (introducer sheath) that is inserted into a blood vessel in the arm or leg. The catheter is guided through the blood vessel to the heart with the help of a special x-ray machine. Contrast material is injected through the catheter and pictures are taken as it moves through the heart and its blood vessels.

At the Cooper Heart Institute, we combine the expertise and experience of our physicians with advanced equipment and software to offer a full range of cardiac studies, including cardiac catheterization.

What to expect

A person will be sedated, meaning awake and conscious during the entire procedure. The cardiologist will use a local anesthetic to numb the site. The short, hollow tube (sheath) is inserted in a blood vessel in the arm or inner thigh. The long, thin, flexible tube (catheter) will be inserted through the sheath and guided to the heart heart using an x-ray machine that produces real-time pictures (fluoroscopy). A person may feel pressure when the sheath or catheter is inserted.

Once the catheter is in place, the doctor may collect blood samples from the heart, measure pressure, blood flow, and oxygen levels, examine the blood vessels, or take a sample of heart tissue (biopsy). Once the test is complete, the catheter is removed.