Cardiac catheterization and coronary angiogram

Cardiac catheterization with coronary angiogram is a test to check the heart and coronary arteries. It is used to check blood flow in the coronary arteries, blood flow and blood pressure in the chambers of the heart, find out how well the heart valves work, and check for problems in how the wall of the heart moves.

The purpose of cardiac catheterization and angiogram is to find out if a person has disease in the coronary arteries (atherosclerosis). If the person has atherosclerosis, this test can pinpoint the size and location of fat and calcium deposits (plaque) that are narrowing the coronary arteries. Results from cardiac catheterization and angiogram help determine whether treatment with bypass surgery or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), such as angioplasty, may be effective.

During cardiac catheterization, a soft, thin tube (catheter) is put in a blood vessel in the arm or groin and gently moved into the heart. A special dye (contrast material) that shows up on X-rays is injected through the catheter. An X-ray picture on a computer screen shows the dye moving through the blood vessels and into the chambers of the heart. X-ray pictures of the dye can check for narrowing or blockage of the arteries.

Last Updated: August 21, 2009

Author: Robin Parks, MS

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology

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