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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Cardiac Catheterization

A cardiac catheterization (cath) is an x-ray exam of the heart and its arteries. The exam looks at how well the heart works. The test helps detect the area and extent of any artery blockage or narrowing.


During the exam, a thin catheter (tube) is inserted in the femoral artery (in the groin) and slowly passed to the heart. Dye (contrast) is injected and x-rays are taken. The contrast allows the blood vessels to be seen. The exam involves little or no discomfort and lasts one to two hours.

During the exam, if a blockage is found, your doctor may be contacted. In some cases, treatment is done during the exam itself. This may include an angioplasty and often a stent placement. During angioplasty, a small tube (catheter) with a balloon tip is inserted into the narrow artery. The balloon is slowly inflated to open up the artery. At this time, a small metal coil (stent) may be inserted to keep the narrow artery open.

Patients having an angioplasty or stent placement remain in the hospital overnight.


For more information regarding Cardiac Catheterization, please call 312-926-5135 or 1-866-662-8467, or request a first time appointment online.

Last UpdateMarch 16, 2011