Cardiac catheterization involves passing a catheter (i.e., a thin flexible tube) through an artery or a vein to the heart, and into a coronary artery. This procedure produces angiograms (i.e., x-ray images) of the coronary arteries and the left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber, and also can be used to measure pressures in the pulmonary artery and to monitor heart function, usually in critically ill patients (called right heart catheterization).
In most cases, cardiac catheterization is recommended when a partial or complete arterial blockage is suspected. It is used to evaluate how well the heart is functioning and to obtain information about blockages.
Cardiac catheterization is performed in a hospital. Usually, the procedure takes 2 to 3 hours to perform and patients are required to remain immobile for 4 to 6 hours following cardiac catheterization.