Cardiac Catheterization 

Cardiac catheterization allows a physician to evaluate a patient’s heart function, identify problems and administer certain treatments for narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. 

Conditions Diagnosed 

A physician may order cardiac catheterization to: 

  • Diagnose coronary artery disease, heart valve disease or aortic disease  
  • Evaluate heart muscle function 
  • Determine the need for additional treatment, such as an interventional procedure or coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery 

Procedure Details 

Usually, cardiac catheterization is performed in a special hospital lab. Before the procedure, a technician will place an intravenous (IV) line in a vein in the patient’s arm, which will be used to deliver a sedative to help the patient relax and possibly a contrast medium to enhance image quality. 

After applying a local anesthetic to the puncture site in the patient’s groin, a physician will make a needle puncture through the skin and into a large blood vessel, then insert a small tube (sheath) into the vessel. Through the sheath, the physician will gently guide a long, thin tube (catheter) to the heart using real-time images for guidance. 

Once the catheter is in place, the physician may insert various instruments to measure the blood pressure in each heart chamber and in the blood vessels connected to the heart, to view the interior of blood vessels, to obtain blood samples from different parts of the heart or to remove a tissue sample (biopsy) from inside the heart. 

During cardiac catheterization, the physician may also perform: 

  • Angiography – To capture a series of X-ray images using a contrast dye 
  • Angioplasty or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) – To clear a narrowed or blocked artery 
  • Valvuloplasty – To widen a narrowed heart valve opening 

What to Expect 

Cardiac catheterization is a safe procedure with minimal side effects. Afterward, slight bruising may develop at the catheter insertion site. Some patients are also sensitive to the contrast dye used during the procedure.


Cardiac catheterization is an effective way to diagnose and treat certain heart problems. Tampa General’s Heart and Vascular Institute is pleased to offer this procedure through our world-class, comprehensive cardiovascular care program. Our state-of-the-art facility features several cardiac catheterization labs, allowing us to offer a full range of non-surgical treatment options that typically result in minimal pain and a quick recovery for our patients.