Heart Catheterization is a test to check your heart. This test uses a thin flexible tube called a catheter that is inserted into the heart through blood vessels. This test can include a coronary angiogram, which checks the coronary arteries.

A Heart Catheterization can check blood flow in the coronary arteries, check blood flow and blood pressure in the chambers of the heart camera.gif, find out how well the heart valves work, and check for defects in the way the wall of the heart moves. In children, this test is used to check for heart problems that have been present since birth (congenital heart defect).

A coronary angiogram is used to find out if you have disease in your coronary arteries (atherosclerosis camera.gif). If you have atherosclerosis, this test can pinpoint the size and location of fat and calcium deposits (plaque) that are narrowing your coronary arteries.

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is similar to coronary angiogram, but it is used to open up a narrowed coronary artery with special tools. PCI includes:

  • Angioplasty with or without coronary stents.
  • Atherectomy.

Results from a coronary angiogram help determine whether treatment with medicines, bypass surgery, or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), such as angioplasty, may be effective.

Decision Points focus on key medical care decisions that are important to many health problems.

Why It Is Done

Heart Catheterization is done to:

  • Check blood flow and blood pressure in the chambers of the heart.
  • Check the pumping action of the heart.
  • Find out if a congenital heart defect is present and how severe it is. Heart Catheterization sometimes can also be used to help correct the defect.
  • Check blood flow through the heart after surgery.
  • Find out how well the heart valves work.

Coronary angiogram

A coronary angiogram is done to:

Check blood flow in the coronary arteries and, if you have coronary artery disease, determine whether surgery or another type of procedure, such as angioplasty with stenting, is needed.