Cardiac Diagnostic Procedures
Left Heart Catheterization
Left heart catheterization is the passage of a catheter (a thin flexible tube) into the left side of the heart most commonly through the right femoral artery (groin). The procedure may be performed to obtain diagnostic information about the left side of the heart or to treat certain types of heart conditions.
The procedure can also be used to determine pressure and blood flow in the heart's chambers, to collect blood samples from the heart, and to examine the arteries of the heart by injecting iodine contrast (dye) along with the use of low dose X-ray imaging.
Left Heart Catheterization is performed to evaluate cardiac valvular disease, heart function and blood supply, congenital heart anomalies, and to determine the need for cardiac surgery. Therapeutic catheterization may be used to repair certain types of heart defects, open a stenotic heart valve, and dilate obstructed arteries (Interventional Cardiology).
Right Heart Catheterization
Right heart catheterization is the passage of a catheter into the right side of the heart. Pressures as well as sampling of mixed venous blood are obtained in the heart chambers and lungs. The procedure can also be used to determine pressure and blood flow in the heart's chambers.
Flow-directed pulmonary artery (or Swan-Ganz) catheters allow direct measurement of intravascular pressures in the right heart and pulmonary artery, as well as sampling of mixed venous blood. This catheter may be left in place after the procedure for continuous monitoring of pulmonary artery pressures.
Bypass grafts can be visualized during a cardiac catheterization with the passage of a catheter (a thin flexible tube) into the left side of the heart in the same manner as the native coronary arteries.
Most often, a pulmonary angiogram is performed to see whether a pulmonary embolus, or blood clot, has traveled through the veins from the legs or pelvis into the lungs, blocking blood flow to a part of the lungs. The procedure is performed in the same manner as a Right heart catheterization.