Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory

Cardiac catheterization is a diagnostic procedure used to determine the extent of heart disease, including coronary artery disease and defective heart valves. Each year cardiologists perform more than 1,000 diagnostic cardiac catheterizations and coronary angiography procedures and 500 interventional procedures in our three cardiac catheterization laboratories.

In this procedure, a catheter is inserted into an artery through a small incision in the groin area. With the use of x-ray photography, the catheter is guided through the heart until the blockage is found. The catheter can then measure the amount of pressure within the heart, so the doctor can determine pumping power and valve function. With the release of a special dye, a coronary angiogram helps detect blockage in the coronary arteries, and a left ventriculogram looks at the main pumping chamber of the heart.

Cardiologists in the cath lab also perform percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), often helping the patient avoid surgery. These procedures include:

  • Diagnostic catheterization for coronary and valvular heart disease
  • Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty
  • Percutaneous coronary artery stenting with bare metal and stents
    and drug eluting stents 
  • Coronary atherectomy
  • Thrombolic therapy
  • Electrophysiology procedures
  • Peripheral vascular angiography and intervention (angioplasty and stenting)
  • Renal and carotid angioplasty and stenting

Cardiac catheterization takes approximately an hour, and the patient may go home the same day unless further medical attention is needed. The procedure has a low risk of serious complication, with less than one in 1,000 patients experiencing problems.