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Cardiac catheterization, commonly called a “cardiac cath”, is a procedure used to evaluate multiple aspects of the hearts structure and function including the heart’s blood vessels (looking for blockages), the pumping function, and valves.
Cardiac catheterization is performed using a long thin tube that is called a catheter.
Traditionally, the tube is inserted into blood vessels in the groin area and guided to the heart using special X-ray equipment. This is called femoral cardiac catheterization cardiac catheterization. In radial access cardiac catheterization, the catheter is inserted into an artery in the wrist called the radial artery and guided through arteries and into the heart using the X-ray equipment. Once in position, measurements of the heart’s function using special pressure measurements, as well as X-ray movies of the heart chambers and blood vessels by injecting contrast (X-ray dye) can be obtained. Use of specialized catheters can allow for the placement of stents in the coronary arteries.
Radial access cardiac catheterization reduces bleeding complications and usually is more comfortable for the patient compared to femoral cardiac catheterization.
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