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Heart Procedures: Cardiac Catheterization Lab

If you are being treated or evaluated for heart or vascular condition, you may need one or more cardiac catheterization (cath lab) procedures. Cath lab is a specialized service that plays an important role in diagnosing and treating heart disease.

In cath lab procedures, doctors use a long, thin tube called a catheter to reach the heart or other structures. The catheter is inserted into a small incision, usually in your upper thigh, arm or neck, and threaded through blood vessels. Catheterization can often prevent the need for more invasive surgery.

Our cardiac cath labs have the latest technology and equipment and perform thousands of procedures each year. Our team members are specially trained to keep you safe and comfortable and to perform a wide range of services, such as:

Diagnostic cardiac catheterization

To find blockages and other problems, a cardiologist inserts a small tube called a catheter into a vein or artery, then guides the tube to the heart. Dye is then injected into the catheter so that the heart and coronary artery functions can be seen on monitors while they are also being digitally recorded.

Physicians study the images to help pinpoint the exact problem and prescribe the best treatment. Patients undergoing catheterization are given local anesthetics and usually feel very little discomfort.

Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA)

Also known as PTCA or balloon angioplasty, this procedure involves inserting a catheter attached to a small balloon into a blocked heart artery. The balloon is then inflated and deflated to reopen the artery and increase blood flow.


This technique can remove plaque (a waxy coating made of cholesterol and other substances) from a blocked heart artery. This procedure can be completed using one or more different methods that the cath lab has readily available.

Coronary stenting

A stent is a small metal coil, or mesh tube, that is placed in a blocked or damaged artery to help keep it open so that blood can flow more freely through it. A stent is commonly used along with a balloon angioplasty and atherectomy.


The device is used to clear plaque from clogged coronary arteries. Using a diamond-tipped drill, the rotoblator rotates at a high speed, boring through plaque deposits and breaking them into tiny particles. These particles then flow from the artery, leaving it clear from blockages.

Intra Vas (IVUS)

This method uses sound waves that travel through a catheter to produce an image of the coronary arteries, allowing doctors to look inside blood vessels and check their condition.

Permanent pacemaker placement

This procedure places a small electronic device under the skin in the chest (just below the collarbone) to help regulate electrical problems with the heart that can cause rhythm disorders and keep the heart beating regularly. The pacemaker is connected to the heart through a vein. In some cases, you may not have to stay in the hospital overnight.

Coronary ultrasound

This method uses sound waves to help evaluate the arteries. A small catheter is placed inside the artery, and pictures are taken from within to better find and assess blockages.


This procedure is similar to a balloon angioplasty, except that a larger balloon is used to expand the valve, leading to increased blood flow through the heart.

Peripheral angioplasty

This procedure is used to treat peripheral artery disease, when the legs and feet are not getting enough blood. A catheter is threaded into the artery, so the doctors can find and treat blockages that are preventing blood flow to the legs and feet.

Electrophysiology (EP) studies

During an electrophysiology study, the heart’s electrical flow and rhythm is monitored and analyzed from inside the heart through electrode catheters placed through the veins. An EP study can help determine exactly what the rhythm problem is and what can be done to control it. In some cases, the rhythm problem can be corrected during the EP study using a method called ablation.

Three-dimensional mapping

This advanced technique uses computerized technology to help physicians pinpoint the exact location of an irregular heart rhythm. Doctors can see the heart’s left atrium and pulmonary veins, so they can accurately locate irregular signals.

Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) placement

This procedure implants an ICD, a small electronic device that can help control the heart’s rhythm, speed and pattern. Like a pacemaker, it constantly monitors the heart rhythm. It also has the ability to stop a dangerous arrhythmia.

Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT)

This treatment for heart failure uses a specialized pacemaker that sends small electrical impulses to the heart to synchronize the action of the right and left ventricles. CRT helps the heart to fill and pump blood more effectively.

Cardiac cath lab procedures require a physician referral and an evaluation by a cardiologist.