Cardiac catheterization is a medical procedure in which a catheter is inserted into the chambers or vessels of the heart for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. One of the most common of these is coronary artery catheterization, valve catheterization etc. The technical names of the procedures include coronary angiography for visualizing coronary vessels, coronary angioplasty in which mechanical stents are used to increase blood flow in blocked or occluded vessels , balloon septostomy, catheter ablation, electrophysiology in which cardiac output or amount of blood pumped by heart per minute is measured etc. 

An introducer is placed on the right jugular vein of the patient and the balloon tipped catheter is inserted through the sheath of the vein. The balloon is then inflated and the catheter is advanced through the right chamber of the heart into pulmonary capillary. The right sided pressures and cardiac output is obtained via thermodilution. Fluoroscopy is used to visualize the path of the catheter

There are 2 types of cardiac catheterization:

Left cardiac catheterization is done in cases of blocks in coronary artery. Stenting is done to open the blockage in the vessel and restore the flow of blood. Usually occlusions more than 70% of the width of the artery require interventional measures. However in cases where multiple vessels are blocked, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery is done.

Right cardiac catheterization is done to know the blood pressure within the chambers of the heart (intracardiac pressures). Femoral vein is used to access the heart. Values are obtained from pulmonary arteries, pulmonary capillaries, right atrium and right ventricle. The cardiac output and cardiac index is also obtained by this process.

Indications for cardiac catheterization

  • Heart Attack or heart failure
  • Abnormal Stress Test
  • cardiac arrhythmia
  • Persistent chest pain despite
  • Prinzmetal Angina
  • Pulmonary hypertension

Disclaimer: The information given in this write-up is purely for educating the reader. It is not meant to be a substitute for any advice from a medical expert.