What is Coronary Catheterization? Learn the Facts from Allen Hospital

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Coronary Catheterization

Why is the doctor performing this test?

To determine if there is blockage (plaque build up or Atherosclerosis) within the coronary arteries which reduces the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart.

What is the test?

A Coronary Catheterization (also called a Cath or Angiogram) is a non-surgical diagnostic test which allows your doctor to see inside your coronary (heart) arteries. While taking X-ray pictures, your doctor will guide a small tube called a catheter inside an artery to the opening of the coronary arteries and inject an X-ray dye, allowing him or her to visualize areas of narrowing in these arteries. If this plaque buildup (also called Atherosclerosis) is left untreated, the heart artery can become more narrowed or crack, which can result in a heart attack.

Where is the test performed?

In the Cardiac Catheterization Lab.

How long does this test take?

Approximately 45 minutes to an hour.

How do I prepare for a Cardiac Cath?

  • Unless otherwise instructed by your doctor, continue to take your medications. Be sure to tell your doctor if you take a blood thinner such as Coumadin┬« or Plavix┬«.
  • If you take medication for diabetes, please talk to your doctor about the dose that you should take the morning of the procedure.
  • It is important that your stomach is empty for the test. Your doctor will inform you when to stop eating and drinking. Normally, discontinue eating or drinking at least eight hours prior to the procedure. If you are taking medications, do so with a small sip of water.
  • You will be asked to change into a hospital gown. You may wear glasses, dentures and hearing aids during the procedure. Rings may also be worn. However, please remove any necklaces or dangling jewelry.