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Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure to diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions by advancing a tiny hollow tube, or catheter, from a blood vessel in the groin or arm through the aorta and into the heart. 

Once the catheter is in place, our interventional cardiologists can use it for several diagnostic techniques, such as measuring the pressures in the chambers. In addition, the catheter can be advanced into the coronary arteries and a contrast dye injected into the arteries.

One example of cardiac catheterization for treatment is laser treatment using a tool used to open blocked heart arteries. Laser energy evaporates and removes blockages that are difficult to treat successfully with angioplasty alone. Therefore, angioplasty often follows laser treatment to improve the chance for a successful outcome.

Inova interventional cardiologists also perform intravascular ultrasounds (IVUS) during a cardiac catheterization to provide "inside out" views of the coronary arteries using sound waves. This is similar to an echocardiogram.

Conditions Diagnosed/Treated by Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization can further diagnose and treat: 

  • Congestive heart failure 

  • Congenital heart conditions

    • Atherosclerosis

    • Cardiomyopathy

    • Atrial septal defect 

    • Ventricular septal defect 

  • Coronary artery disease

  • Valvular heart disease

Procedure Preparation and Instructions