Cardiac Catheterization and Angiography

         Basic Facts

  • Cardiac catheterization and angiography are combined for a diagnostic test that evaluates blood flow in the coronary arteries.  
  • Cardiac catheterization involves the insertion of a very thin tube called a catheter into an artery in the leg or arm. The catheter is threaded to the arteries in the heart.
  • During angiography, special fluid (contrast dye) is injected through the catheter. X-ray images show the dye as it flows through the heart arteries. 
  • This diagnostic procedure may be used with a therapeutic procedure, such as angioplasty and stenting, which is designed to open a narrowed or blocked artery.

cardiac catheterization and angiography

As people age, the normal flow of blood through the arteries can be affected by the buildup of cholesterol and fat (plaque) on the artery walls. Over time, plaque continues to grow and causes the arteries to become narrowed, reducing blood flow to the heart. This condition is called atherosclerosis, which may begin as early as childhood.
To find out the extent of blockage in the coronary arteries, doctors use cardiac catheterization to collect information about the heart’s blood supply or to assess or treat other cardiac problems.

The most common test that is performed in conjunction with cardiac catheterization is angiography, also called arteriography. During angiography, a physician traces the flow of contrast dye through the arteries with an x-ray machine to get a ‘road map’ of the heart’s blood vessels. The pictures that result, called angiograms or arteriograms, help doctors pinpoint the location and extent of problems with the heart’s blood supply and decide on treatment.

A cardiac catheter is used to deliver contrast dye to the heart.

Cardiac Catheterization and Angiography FAQ