Cardiac Catheterization


Cardiac catheterization is a diagnostic procedure that gives the cardiologist a guided tour of the inside of the heart. The cardiologist inserts a catheter — a long, slender, flexible tube — into a vein or artery and guides it into the heart. Once the catheter is in place, a small amount of dye is injected into it. The view of the heart, highlighted by the contrast of the dye, is projected onto computer monitors and processed digitally. Then, it is recorded on a compact disc.

Through cardiac catheterization, a physician can explore the heart's structure and identify problems such as clogged arteries before a heart attack occurs. The results of this exploration help the cardiologist decide the most appropriate treatment for the patient.

Emergent Angioplasty

When a patient is actively experiencing a heart attack, the cath lab will assist the physician in performing an angioplasty, where a balloon is inserted into a blocked vessel to expand and open the vessel.

Studies have found the vessels need to be open in 90 minutes or less for best results. The cath lab team works to meet and exceed that goal on every case that comes in the doors.

Diagnostic Catheterization

The cath lab will also see patients who are not experiencing heart attack. For example, when a physician needs more information following EKG and stress testing, the patient may be sent for a diagnostic catheterization. The cath lab team may also see patients for elective cases involving peripheral blood vessels (such as those in the legs), or the placement of a loop recorder, which is advanced technology that monitors heart rhythms as an alternative to the cumbersome Holter monitor.

RWJ Hamilton's cardiac catheterization lab is equipped with the most advanced technology available. Staffed by some of the state's finest cardiologists, cardiac nurses and highly trained medical professionals, we provide a full spectrum of comprehensive diagnostic procedures.

Patient Stories

  • It felt so good just to be able to walk and not get a cramp in my leg.

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  • “They taught me how to adjust my lifestyle and eating habits, which took away the worry of having another heart attack.”

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Patient Stories

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