Eisenhower Army Medical Center
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Cardiac Catheterization

Coronary artery procedures are done in a special room called a catheterization (cath) lab. This room has all the tools needed to evaluate your heart arteries and function. During this procedure, a long flexible tube called a catheter is used. It is inserted into a blood vessel usually located in the groin region after local anesthesia (numbing medicine) is injected under the skin. It is gently guided toward your heart. Different shaped catheters are used and contrast is injected into the arteries while pictures are recorded by a x-ray machine. This procedure can diagnose coronary artery disease. This means that vessels giving blood to your heart muscle may be narrowed or blocked. Other catheter procedures can be used to treat the coronary artery disease. These include balloon angioplasty, stent implantation, and atherectomy.

Balloon angioplasty improves blood flow to your heart. A catheter with a balloon at its tip is placed in the blockage within the artery. The balloon is then expanded to enlarge the blood vessel. A stent is a small metal coil or mesh tube. After balloon angioplasty, a stent may be placed in the artery. This helps prevent the artery from narrowing again. Atherectomy may be done to improve the blood to your heart. During this procedure, a catheter with a special grinding device is used. This device clears away the plaque in the blocked artery.