Cardiac Catheterization and Angiography

Cardiac catheterization involves the insertion of a thin tube called a catheter into an artery. The catheter is threaded through the arterial system to the arteries in the heart, where physicians use it 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 contrast dye used to produce images of the heart’s blood vessels is pumped through the catheter and into the coronary arteries. A physician traces the flow of this dye 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.