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URMC / URMC Cardiology / Patient Care / Diagnostic Tests / Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac Catheterization

What's it for

A Cardiac Catheterization is used to take moving pictures of your heart and the surrounding blood vessels. It enables your doctors to see if there are any blockages in the arteries that supply your heart.

A cardiac catheterization may be performed when heart disease is suspected. It also may be done on an emergency basis when you have symptoms of a heart attack.

If a blockage is found in your coronary arteries, a procedure called an angioplasty can be performed immediately to remove the blockage.

How it's done

A cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive procedure. This means that everything is done through a very small incision.

You are given medication through an IV to help you relax. Your blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen level are monitored throughout this procedure.

After you are given an anesthetic to numb the area, a small incision is made in either your thigh or in your arm. A thin tube called a sheath is inserted. Then a longer and thinner tube called a catheter is slid into the sheath.

The catheter is guided through your blood vessels and up to your heart. A dye is then injected through the catheter and into your heart. This dye allows moving x-ray images to be taken of your heart so your doctors can see how it is functioning. When the dye is injected, you will feel a warm sensation throughout your body for about 30 seconds.

Next, contrast dye is injected into the blood vessels surrounding your heart, enabling doctors to look for blockages or narrowing of your coronary arteries.

Your doctors may also perform additional tests during your cardiac catheterization, such as an intra-vascular ultrasound to provide more information on the amount of plaque within your arteries.

If needed, your doctor may perform an angioplasty to open up blocked sections of your coronary arteries.

Technology and expertise at URMC

The Cardiac Catheterization Lab at URMC is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We offer many procedures that are not available anywhere else in the region.

URMC was the first in the region to perform coronary stents and angioplasty. We were also the first to perform catheterizations through the arm, using the radial artery approach. By being part of a medical center that is actively involved in the latest research, we are able to consistently provide our patients with the most advanced and safest procedures.

URMC Cardiology has doctors who perform a high volume of many procedures. Research shows that those centers which perform the highest volume of a procedure generally have the best outcomes.

Who to contact

If you would like more information on cardiac catheterization and angiograms at URMC, please call us at (585) 275-6161.

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