Cardiac Catheterization

Expert diagnosis and management of coronary artery disease

Cardiac Catheterization at Anna Jaques Hospital

Cardiac catheterization is a painless procedure used to diagnose blockages in the veins and arteries. This minimally invasive procedure allows your cardiologist (heart doctor) to see inside your blood vessels.

The doctor inserts a very narrow tube, called a catheter, into the femoral artery located in your groin area. The catheter travels up through the artery directly into the heart where the cardiologist injects contrast dye. Sophisticated imaging capabilities allow us to check for blockages.

Because veins and arteries don’t have nerve endings, you shouldn’t feel any pain. While the procedure is underway, your cardiologist talks with you and can tell you right away if they notice any areas of concern.

When Would You Need Cardiac Catheterization?

You may get cardiac catheterization in one of two situations:

  • Emergency. If you experience heart attack symptoms, such as chest pain and shortness of breath.
  • Elective. After you notice signs of heart failure (such as discomfort in your chest, neck, jaw, throat or back) or undergo a noninvasive heart diagnostic test that shows abnormalities.

Types of Cardiac Catheterization

Depending on your symptoms, your cardiologist may recommend one of the following procedures to diagnose and/or treat your condition:

  • Cardiac ablation. During this procedure, your cardiologist treats heart rhythm problems.
  • Diagnostic cardiac catheterization. Your cardiologist uses this type of procedure to identify the specific heart problem you have. We’ll use the details gathered during the test to plan the next steps along your treatment journey.
  • Left heart catheterization. This procedure examines the left side of your heart. You may undergo this procedure if your cardiologist suspects you may have coronary artery disease, or CAD.
  • Right heart catheterization. This test determines how well your heart is pumping. You may need this procedure if you have heart failure, congenital heart disease or a number of other heart conditions.

What To Expect

Get details on what happens when you need a heart catheterization procedure in our cath lab.

During a Heart Cath

Before cardiac catheterization, you receive a sedative that allows you to relax. You also get anesthetic at the site of your femoral artery (at the top of your thigh) or radial artery (at the wrist). At this site, your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube called a catheter.

The doctor threads the catheter up to your heart. You won’t feel the catheter moving inside you because blood vessels don’t have nerve endings. Through the catheter, the doctor injects a special dye that shows up on an X-ray camera and reveals whether your arteries are clogged.

Angioplasty & Stent Placement

When your physician sees a small arterial blockage, they may recommend medication to treat it. If there’s a larger blockage, the doctor may open the artery by placing a tiny stent at the clogged area during a procedure called angioplasty, or percutaneous coronary intervention. Your physician can perform this treatment while you’re still sedated.

If your arteries have multiple blockages, you may need coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery to divert blood flow around the clogged blood vessels. In this case, your doctor will discuss the procedure with you after cardiac catheterization.

Services We Offer

In the Anna Jaques Cardiac Catheterization lab, we offer these and other diagnostic services.

  • Angiography
  • Echo stress testing
  • Pharmacologic stress testing
  • Tilt table testing
  • Electrophysiology studies
  • Ablation procedures
  • Arrhythmia interpretation by Holter monitoring

Services & Specialties

Our heart and vascular providers work with these and other specialty areas to deliver high quality heart care.