Cardiac catheterization is often used to help doctors determine the severity and extent of cardiovascular problems. The cardiologist makes a small incision in the arm or groin and threads a catheter into a blood vessel. The catheter is then guided through the blood vessel to the heart.
With this procedure physicians can:
analyze the location and size of plaque deposits
assess the strength of the heart muscle and valves
collect blood samples
take blood pressure readings
inject dyes that are visible on x-rays into arteries to see how well blood is flowing
Information from the cardiac cath can help determine if cardiac surgery or another interventional cardiology procedure, such as angioplasty, is necessary.