At Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, our state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization lab is staffed by medical and interventional cardiologists, experienced registered nurses and technologists who will make you as comfortable as possible and keep you informed every step of the way.
A cardiac catheterization is a standard medical procedure used to diagnose and treat certain heart conditions. During the procedure, doctors can check blood flow and pressure in the heart and coronary arteries, the function of heart valves, as well as the pumping action of the heart. It can be used to diagnose:
- Atherosclerosis: A gradual clogging of the arteries over many years by fatty materials and other substances in the blood stream
- Cardiomyopathy: An enlargement of the heart due to thickening or weakening of the heart muscle
- Congenital Heart Disease: Defects in one or more heart structures that occur during formation of the fetus, such as a hole in the wall between the two lower heart chambers
- Heart Failure: A condition where the heart muscle is so weak that blood cannot be pumped efficiently, causing buildup (congestion) in the blood vessels and lungs; and edema (swelling) in the feet, ankles and other parts of the body
- Valvular Heart Disease: A malfunction of one or more of the heart valves that may cause an obstruction of the blood flow within the heart
A cardiac catheterization also may be performed if you've experienced:
- Chest pain or angina
- Shortness of breath
The procedures performed at the Cardiac Catheterization Lab include:
- Interventional balloon angioplasty
- Pacemaker placement
- Vascular intervention
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillator
- Interventional radiology procedures
What to expect during a catheterization procedure:
Most cardiac catheterization procedures take just 30 minutes or so. You will be given a mild sedative to help you relax, but you will be awake and conscious during the procedure. The doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb the catheter insertion site.
During the procedure, our experienced physicians will insert a small tube, or catheter, into a blood vessel in the groin or arm, through the aorta and into the heart. It is guided to your heart with the aid of a special X-ray. Contrast dye is injected through the catheter so that X-ray images of your valves, coronary arteries and heart chambers can be created. Once the procedure is completed, you'll be monitored in the hospital for several hours.