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Cardiac Catheterization

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For more information about cardiac catheterization at Mount Auburn Hospital, call 617-499-5559.

Your doctor may use a minimally invasive procedure called cardiac catheterization to see inside your blood vessels and determine whether you have coronary artery disease. At Mount Auburn Hospital, you benefit from the experience of doctors who perform more than 1,500 cardiac catheterization tests each year at our Zir Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory.

When Do I Need Cardiac Catheterization?

You may get cardiac catheterization in one of two cases:

  • Emergency – When you experience heart attack symptoms (such as chest pain and shortness of breath) 
  • Elective – After you notice signs of heart failure (such as discomfort in your chest, neck, jaw, throat or back) or get a noninvasive heart diagnostic test that shows abnormalities

What Happens During the Test?

Before cardiac catheterization, you receive a sedative to make you relax. You also get anesthetic at the site of your femoral artery (at the top of your thigh), or radial artery (at the wrist) where a doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube called a catheter. He or she then threads the catheter up to your heart. You won’t feel the catheter moving inside you because blood vessels have no nerve endings.

Through the catheter, the doctor injects a special dye that shows up on an X-ray camera and reveals whether your arteries are clogged.

Angioplasty and stent placement 

When your physician sees a small arterial blockage, he or she may recommend medication to treat it. But if there’s a larger blockage, the doctor may open the artery by placing a tiny stent at the clogged area during a procedure called an angioplasty, or percutaneous coronary intervention. Your physician can perform this treatment while you’re still sedated.

If your arteries have multiple blockages, you may need coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery to divert blood flow around the clogged blood vessels. In this case, your doctor will discuss the procedure with you after cardiac catheterization.

Award-Winning Heart Treatment

You can trust Mount Auburn Hospital’s quality of care following cardiac catheterization because:

  • We earned Healthgrades’ America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Coronary Intervention AwardTM in 2015, 2014 and 2013. 
  • We received five stars—Healthgrades’ highest rating— in 2015 for providing better-than-expected outcomes after CABG surgery, coronary interventions, heart attack treatment and heart failure treatment.

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