Coronary catheterization is an internal examination, in which the heart is being imaged with the aid of catheters. The purpose is to detect narrowings in the coronary arteries of the heart. The results of the examination provide the cardiologist with detailed information about the condition of the heart, the heart valves and the coronary arteries.
Coronary catheterization is used in case of coronary heart diseases (angina pectoris or heart attack). With coronary catheterization, the cardiologist wants to investigate if there are any narrowings, where they are and what the severity of the narrowings is. Additionally, it’s also used in, among other things, the evaluation of the pumping function of the heart, the heart rhythm or the functioning of the heart valves.
The cardiologist and some cardiac function technologists carry out the examination in the cath lab. This room has a large X-ray device next to the treatment table. With this device, video recordings of the coronary arteries are made. A number of monitors are hanging there, on which the cardiologist can view the heart rhythm and the X-ray images. The result of the examination is a series of video recordings, in which the course of the blood vessels can quite accurately be seen. Any narrowings are visible.
A catheter is inserted through the wrist or the groin. After local anesthesia of the puncture site, the catheter is guided through the artery to the heart. The doctor injects contrast fluid to be able to view the coronary arteries well and to see if there are narrowings. After the examination, a pressure bandage is applied to press the puncture site or the doctor uses a soluble sealing cap. In case of treatment via the groin, the patient should rest on the back for several hours. In case of catheterization via the wrist, the patient gets a pressure bandage around the wrist and a sling for the arm. Bed rest is not required.
The examination takes about one to one and a half hours.
- Coronary catheterization was developed in 1958 by the American doctor F. Mason Sones.
- The term ‘coronary angiography’ is derived from the Greek words coronair (coronary artery), angeion (blood vessel) and graphein (writing, drawing).
- Several cardiac procedures, such as angioplasty, are also done via a catheter.