Diagnostic Cardiac Catheterization

Diagnostic cardiac catheterization is a type of procedure performed to diagnose certain cardiovascular conditions. A long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter is put into a blood vessel in your wrist, groin, or neck and threaded to your heart. Through the catheter, doctors can perform diagnostic tests and treatments on your heart.

Why is Diagnostic Cardiac Catheterization Performed?

Diagnostic cardiac catheterization is performed to:

  • Investigate symptoms or confirm the diagnosis of a cardiovascular condition such as:
    • Coronary artery disease
    • Valve disease
    • Aortic disease
    • Diseases of the heart muscle
    • Diseases of the pericardium
  • Evaluate the progression of a condition and determine the best course of treatment

About Diagnostic Cardiac Catheterization

Diagnostic cardiac catheterization procedures use a long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter guided by medical imaging with a special X-ray machine. A dye called contrast is injected through the catheter to help the doctor visualize the blood vessels and the heart chambers on the X-ray.

Diagnostic Cardiac Catheterization 

Depending on your symptoms, you may need a specific type of cardiac catheterization procedure. These procedures are all very similar in how they are performed but there are slight variations so that the tests can accurately diagnose heart conditions.

Types of cardiac catheterization include: 

  • Left heart Catheterization: This procedure is used to check for blockages in the arteries leading to your heart and the function of the left ventricle. In a left heart catheterization, the catheter is usually first placed in the artery in your groin or wrist.
  • Right heart catheterization: This procedure checks the pressure and blood flow in the right side of your heart as well as the pressure in your pulmonary artery.  A catheter is inserted in the vein in your arm, neck, or groin.  The catheter has special sensors in it to measure the pressure and blood flow in your heart.

What to Expect

Diagnostic cardiac catheterization is performed on an outpatient basis at the ASC. The procedure itself usually takes about 30 minutes, but the preparation and recovery time add several hours.

Before the Procedure

After checking in to the Cardiovascular ASC, you will be taken to a patient room where a specialist will insert an IV to administer a sedative and fluids if needed. Most diagnostic cardiac catheterization procedures are performed using conscious sedation, meaning you will be awake but relaxed.

During the Procedure

In the OR, you will be connected to an ECG monitor that records the electrical activity of your heart. Your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and oxygen level will be monitored during the procedure.

Your healthcare provider will use a medication called a local anesthetic to numb the area where the catheter goes in. There are three approaches to cardiac catheterization:

  • Femoral approach: the catheter is inserted into the groin
  • Radial approach: the catheter is inserted into the wrist 
  • Brachial approach:  occasionally, the procedure is done by inserting a catheter in the artery or vein in your arm near your elbow area.  

The interventional cardiologist will insert a device called an introducer sheath and thread the catheter through it into the arteries of your heart. When the catheter is in place, the contrast dye is injected through catheters into your arteries and heart chambers. The contrast material outlines your vessels, valves, and chambers. When the doctor injects the dye into your heart, you may feel mild heat or flushing  Occasionally, a catheter is placed in the right heart chamber and pulmonary artery for measurement of pressures.

The X-ray camera will take photographs of your arteries and heart chambers. Your doctor may instruct you to cough or hold your breath while the images are taken. When all the images are done, the catheter will be removed before you’re taken to recovery.

After the Procedure

In the recovery room, you will stay flat in bed for a period of time. A nurse will monitor your vital signs, the insertion site, and circulation/sensation in the affected leg or arm. Bedrest may vary from 1 to 4 hours and your doctor will let you know how long you need to rest. If your doctor placed a closure device, your bedrest may be shorter. In some cases, the sheath or introducer may be left in the insertion site. If so, you will be on bed rest until your doctor removes the sheath.

You may be given pain medicine for pain or discomfort related to the procedure. You will be asked to follow all of the aftercare instructions including activity, fluid intake, and diet. You will need a ride home from the ASC because of the medicines or anesthesia you received.

Contact ASC, LLC

At Cardiovascular ASC, LLC our board-certified cardiologists and electrophysiologists utilize advanced technologies to deliver the highest quality care in a cost-effective setting. Call Cardiovascular ASC, LLC at 727-449-9891 to learn more about our facility and the services we provide.

Do You Have A Question? Contact Us!


455 Pinellas Street, Suite 260, Clearwater, FL 33756

If you have any questions about financial arrangements or billing, call us at 727-445-1990.