Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a method of diagnosing and treating some heart conditions. The procedure involves the insertion of a long, thin, flexible tube (catheter) into a blood vessel in the upper thigh, arm, or neck and threaded to the heart using live x-rays (fluoroscopy) as a guide. Physicians can perform diagnostic tests and provide treatments on the heart through the catheter. For example, in a test called coronary angiography, the doctor may inject a special type of dye through the catheter that will flow to the heart and make the heart arteries visible on x-ray pictures. The dye can show whether waxy plaque has built up and restricted blood flow to the heart, diagnostic of coronary artery disease. Doctors also can collect blood samples from the heart, measure blood pressure and flow in the heart’s chambers and large arteries, measure oxygen in various parts of the heart, and perform a biopsy of the heart muscle for laboratory examination. Cardiologists, specialized heart doctors, usually perform these and other catheterization procedures in a sophisticated hospital laboratory. Patients are given medication to relax them, but they are awake during the procedure, and there is little or no pain involved. Soreness at the catheter’s insertion site usually is the only complication. 

At UAB, you will receive expert, personalized care from our cardiology clinics both on campus and at our suburban center at Acton Road just off I-459. Specialists from UAB’s world-renowned team of cardiologists offer you the best evidence-based care for coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, rhythm disturbances, diseased valves, and other heart and vessel conditions. And when you visit our clinics, you can expect friendly, personalized care backed by UAB’s sophisticated facilities and equipment.

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