Cardiac catheterization is a medical procedure used to examine blood flow to the heart and test how well the heart is pumping. A long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter is put into an artery or vein in the patient’s arm, groin, or neck and threaded to the heart. Through the catheter, the physician can perform diagnostic tests and treatments on the heart.
This procedure can measure blood pressure within the heart and how much oxygen is in the blood. It is also used to get information about the pumping ability of the heart muscle.
Sometimes a special dye is put into the catheter to make the insides of the heart and blood vessels show up on x-rays. The dye can show whether a material called plaque has narrowed or blocked any of the heart’s arteries (called coronary arteries). The buildup of plaque narrows the inside of the arteries and, in time, may restrict blood flow to the heart.