Reviewed by Elizabeth Klodas on January 23, 2014


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Video Transcript

: Cardiac Catheterization

Narrator: Cardiac catheterization is used to find out if you have heart disease or treat your existing heart disease. During the procedure, your doctor will give you local anesthesia to numb the insertion site, usually the groin or arm. He or she will make a small incision in the skin over the artery, then insert a sheath, or plastic tube, into the blood vessel. Your doctor will insert a long flexible wire and advance it to the coronary arteries. A tube, called a catheter, is then put through the sheath over the guide wire, and slowly advances the catheter to your heart. To test for heart disease, your doctor may perform coronary angiography, injecting dye through the catheter into the coronary arteries, which are the blood vessels supplying your heart muscle with oxygen and nutrients. X ray pictures, called angiograms, are taken of the dye in your heart to check for blockages or narrowing of the arteries that can be due to coronary artery disease. If you have coronary artery disease, your doctor may treat it immediately with a procedure called coronary angioplasty with or without stent placement, which will open your narrowed or blocked coronary artery. To do this, your doctor will insert a balloon tipped catheter through the sheath, thread it up to the narrowed artery, then inflate the balloon to compress the plaque against the vessel wall. A stent may be placed within the artery to keep the artery open, resulting in an improved blood flow. At the end of the cardiac catheterization, your doctor will remove the catheter and sheath, and close your incision.