Type of Surgery
Last updated: 11/24/2009
Cardiac catheterization (also called heart catheterization) is a diagnostic and occasionally therapeutic procedure that allows a comprehensive examination of the heart and surrounding blood vessels. It enables the physician to take angiograms, record...
blood flow, calculate cardiac output and vascular resistance, perform an endomyocardial biopsy, and evaluate the heart's electrical activity. Cardiac catheterization is performed by inserting one or more catheters (thin flexible tubes) through a peripheral blood vessel in the arm (antecubital artery or vein) or leg (femoral artery or vein) under x-ray guidance.
This animation shows what angioplasty and stent deployment look like if you could see inside of the blood vessels, up close. There is no narration, but the "balloon" being opened is the angioplasty procedure while the "chicken-wire" cylinder is the stent.
Cardiac catheterization (heart cath) is the insertion of a catheter into a chamber or vessel of the heart. This is done for both investigational and interventional purposes. Coronary catheterization is a subset of this technique, involving the catheterization of the coronary arteries.
A small puncture is made in a vessel in the groin, the inner bend of the elbow, or neck area (the femoral vessels or the carotid/jugular vessels), then a guidewire is inserted into the incision and threaded through the vessel into the area of the heart that requires treatment, visualized by fluoroscopy or echocardiogram, and a catheter is then threaded over the guidewire. If X-ray fluoroscopy is used, a radiocontrast agent will be administered to the patient during the procedure. When the necessary procedures are complete, the catheter is removed. Firm pressure is applied to the site to prevent bleeding. This may be done by hand or with a mechanical device. Other closure techniques include an internal suture. If the femoral artery was used, the patient will probably be asked to lie flat for several hours to prevent bleeding or the development of a hematoma. Cardiac interventions such as the insertion of a stent prolong both the procedure itself as well as the post-catheterization time spent in allowing the wound to clot.
A cardiac catheterization is a general term for a group of procedures that are performed using this method, such as coronary angiography, as well as left ventrical angiography. Once the catheter is in place, it can be used to perform a number of procedures including angioplasty, angiography, and balloon septostomy.
If you need heart surgery, you don't want a surgeon who only got a C in medical school. The same principle applies in helping people with mental illnesses.
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