Cardiac Catheterization Diagnostic Procedures and Treatments

You may have heard the term “cardiac cath,” but may not know exactly what it means.

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive diagnostic and treatment option that involves passing a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) through the vessels supplying blood to the heart. Your doctor uses this procedure to tell how well your heart is functioning, and to diagnose any possible cardiac disease.

Cardiac cath care in Washington, D.C.

The Cardiac Catheterization Lab at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute has 11 labs dedicated to interventional procedures, so treating patients is fast, leading to the best possible outcomes. All of our catheterization labs use the latest digital technology, which offers highly detailed images. 

Interventional cardiologists perform cardiac catheterizations. These physicians have up to eight years of clinical training following medical school. 

Cardiac catheterization allows our cardiologists to treat certain types of heart conditions. For example, they can:

  • Open up a narrowed or blocked blood vessel in the heart or elsewhere in the body
  • Open a blocked heart valve
  • Dilate obstructed arteries in the heart
  • Repair holes in a blood vessel or other types of heart defects 

Learn more about cardiac catheterization and the many other diagnostic tests and procedures performed at the Heart & Vascular Institute:

Minimally invasive heart procedures

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive diagnostic and treatment option. Because it doesn't require surgery, you recover faster, with less pain and fewer complications. Patients who have an interventional treatment, such as placement of a stent, can usually go home the next day. 

About 10 percent of patients who undergo cardiac catheterization need open heart surgery. At MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, we have world renowned surgeons able to manage even the most complex cases.  Our cath labs are fully equipped operating rooms, so if cardiac surgery is necessary, we never have to move patients in the middle of a procedure.  

Learn more about cardiac catheterization and the many other diagnostic tests and procedures we perform for:

Radial approach for cardiac catheterization

Based on the needs of each individual patient, our physicians assess each situation and may opt to perform angioplasty and cardiac catheterization procedures through the wrist instead of the groin. Traditionally, doctors performed cardiac catheterizations by threading a catheter through the groin.

Coronary artery disease:

Valvular heart disease:

Structural heart problems:

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