Cardiac Catheterization Offered at Mercy in Baltimore


Coronary artery angiography (cardiac catheterization,) involves threading a catheter through the femoral artery to the left coronary artery. Dye is injected into the artery, which allows for a clot to be seen on an x-ray image.

The highly trained team of doctors at The Heart Center at Mercy in Baltimore utilizes cardiac catheterization to diagnose and treat a variety of heart conditions and diseases

What is Cardiac Catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization is a medical procedure used by cardiologists to diagnose and treat several types of heart conditions. It can be used to evaluate blood flow to the heart, measure the heart’s pumping ability, identify heart defects or heart valve problems, or open blocked coronary arteries. Cardiac catheterization is performed in the hospital under mild sedation. Most people are able to go home the same day.

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How is Cardiac Catheterization performed?

You will be given special instructions ahead of time about eating, drinking and any medications you may be taking.  Most people will probably be able to have the radial artery approach (in the arm), but a few may need the more traditional groin area procedure. Your doctor will decide which one is best for you.

You will be given medicine to help you relax, and numbing medication in the area where a long thin flexible tube (catheter) will be placed. The catheter will be inserted into the artery. X-ray images will help in gently and carefully moving the catheter through the artery and into the heart. Then the doctor will be able to perform tests such as coronary angiography, coronary arteriography or electrophysiologic studies (EPS).

Cardiac catheterization takes about one hour. If the catheter was inserted into an artery in the groin, you will be asked to lie quietly for a few hours. If the procedure used the radial artery in your arm, the recovery period will be much shorter. Most people return to their normal activities in one or two days.

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Who should receive Cardiac Catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization has great value as a diagnostic tool in heart disease. It is used to aid in diagnoses such as:

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Atrial septal defect or other heart defects
  • Valvular heart disease
  • Coronary heart disease

Treatments that use cardiac catheterization include:

  • Heart defect repairs
  • Angioplasty or stent placement
  • Repair of replacement of heart valves
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What risks are associated with Cardiac Catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization is an invasive procedure so it does involve some risk and possible complications:

  • Bleeding or bruising at the catheter insertion site
  • Heart rhythm disturbances
  • Infection
  • Perforation of the heart wall
  • Sudden blockage or damage of an artery
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Allergic reaction to the dye
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