Cardiac catheterization is the most thorough, non-surgical test for identifying the location and extent of cardiovascular disease or disorders. A very narrow, soft, flexible plastic tube called a catheter is threaded into the femoral artery from an insertion at the groin. The catheter is guided to the heart using x-ray imaging. Using dye injected from the catheter, x-ray images of the heart are taken to show narrowings and/or blockages of the coronary arteries, how the heart valves are opening and closing, and the overall pumping efficiency of the heart muscle.

Interventional procedures and testing available in the Cath Lab

Left heart ventricular angiography

A procedure that studies the left side of the heart and, sometimes, the coronary arteries. A dye is injected through a thin flexible tube (catheter) into the heart, followed by a series of x-rays to look at blood flow.

Right heart catheterization

A catheter is inserted through one of the large veins (the inferior or superior vena cava) that return blood to the heart. A balloon is used to carry it through the vena cava to the heart, through the right side of the heart (the right atrium and right ventricle) to the pulmonary artery. Once there, the catheter is positioned in a small branch of the pulmonary artery and the pulmonary wedge pressure is measured in front of the temporarily inflated balloon.


A thin, flexible catheter with a deflated balloon at its tip is inserted into the arm or leg and threaded through the artery until it reaches and passes through the blockage. At this point, the balloon is slowly inflated, which flattens the plaque against the artery wall and widens the artery opening, allowing blood to again flow at a normal (or near normal) rate.


A like small scaffolding, a mesh-like metal device placed in an artery in the heart which helps keep the artery open after an angioplasty procedure. New, drug-coated stents help prevent artery reclosure.


A procedure performed to view blood vessels after injecting them with a radio opaque dye that outlines them on x-ray. This technique is used to look at arteries in many areas of the body, including the heart and its arteries, brain, neck (carotids), chest, pulmonary circuit, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and limbs.

Intra Aortic Balloon Pump (IABP)

A mechanical device consisting of a balloon attached to the end of a catheter which is inserted into the femoral artery in the groin. Designed to reduce the workload of your heart and improve blood flow to the coronary arteries.


A high speed drill used to shave plaque from artery walls.

Intra-Vascular ultrasound

A form of echocardiography performed during cardiac catheterization, used to provide detailed information about the atherosclerosis (blockage) inside the blood vessels. A transducer is threaded into the heart blood vessels via a catheter in the groin.


A special catheter used to remove blood clots from vessels leading to the heart.

Bypass graft visualization

A non-invasive computed tomography (CT) scan used to detect coronary artery disease, aortic dissection and pulmonary embolism.


An invasive diagnostic test using a catheter to inject dye into the aorta, the largest artery in the body which carries oxygenated blood from heart to body. The test allows clear visualization of blood flow, and is particularly useful for evaluating aortic dissection and aortic aneurysm.

Peripheral vascular interventions

Treatment for peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is narrowing or occlusion by atherosclerotic plaques of arteries outside of the heart and brain. Treatment ranges from use of medication to angioplasty, insertion of stents and surgery, including bypass surgery or endarterectomy, an operation that removes diseased material from the inside of any artery and restores normal blood flow.

Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD)

A mini computer device with built-in pacemaker designed to quickly detect a life-threatening, overly rapid heartbeat coming from the bottom chamber of the heart. It converts the abnormal rhythm back to normal by delivering an electrical shock to the heart. An ICD can effectively prevent sudden cardiac death.

Internal Pacemaker insertion

A device that uses electrical impulses to regulate the heart rhythm; designed to treat bradycardia, a heart rate that is too slow. Internal pacemaker implants the electrodes into the heart, the electronic circuitry and the power supply within the body.

Intra Coronary Thrombolytic Therapy

The use of drugs that break up or dissolve blood clots, which are the main cause of both heart attacks and stroke. These drugs, of which tPA is the most commonly used, mimic the function of natural tissue plasminogen activator (TPA).