Cardiac catheterization is a common non-surgical procedure performed in a catheterization laboratory (cath lab). Cardiac catheterization allows healthcare providers to test and treat the heart and coronary arteries. Most cardiac catheterization procedures take an hour or two to complete and require only a short hospital stay.
What happens in the cath lab:
- Catheter placement. A thin tube called a catheter is inserted through an artery (usually the femoral artery in the groin). Under the guidance of x-ray monitors, the catheter is gently guided through the blood vessels up toward the heart.
- Tests or treatments. Once the catheter is in place inside your heart chambers or coronary arteries, your healthcare providers can create images of the heart and arteries. They can also directly treat problems with your heart if necessary.