Cardiac catheterisation and coronary angiography

Why cardiac catheterisation and coronary angiography are used

Cardiac catheterisation and coronary angiography can provide important information about the heart and the blood vessels that surround and supply it.

The heart has four chambers; the two small chambers at the top are called atria and the two larger chambers at the bottom are called ventricles. Each ventricle has two one-way valves to control the flow of blood in and out of the ventricle.

Using cardiac catheterisation, your cardiologist (heart specialist) can tell how well your heart valves and chambers are working. It can also provide important information about the blood pressure inside your heart.

The arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. The blood is returned to the heart through your veins.

Coronary angiography provides pictures (angiograms) that can show whether the blood vessels surrounding your heart are narrowed or blocked. You may need treatment if there are any narrow areas or blockages.

Heart conditions

Coronary angiography can be used to help diagnose a number of heart conditions, including:

  • heart attack – a serious medical emergency where the heart's blood supply is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot
  • angina – a dull, heavy or tight chest pain caused by a restriction in the heart's blood supply due to a build-up of fatty substances (atheroma) in the walls of the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood to the heart)

Treatments

Coronary angiography is also used during certain treatments. For example, it may be used if you need to have:

  • coronary angioplasty or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) – this is a procedure to widen blocked or narrowed coronary arteries
  • coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) – surgery to divert blood around narrow or clogged arteries and improve blood flow to the heart
  • heart valve surgery or intervention – the valves are structures inside the heart that control blood flow within and through the organ
Last updated: 29 January 2013

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