Combining attentive, compassionate care with our extensive clinical and research resources, UT Southwestern's cardiology experts and vascular specialists deliver individualized care within pre-eminent health care facilities.
The skilled cardiologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center use minimally invasive cardiac catheterization to diagnose and treat a variety of cardiovascular conditions without the need for open-heart surgery.
Advanced Techniques, Remarkable Results
Cardiac catheterization (also called cath) is a minimally invasive procedure in which an interventional cardiologist guides a catheter to the heart and performs diagnostic examinations and treatment procedures.
When heart disease causes heart arteries and valves to become blocked, minimally invasive cardiac catheterization procedures help physicians evaluate the situation, administer drugs, and, when necessary, clear blockages to improve blood flow without open-heart surgery.
UT Southwestern’s expert cardiologists use catheters to replace and repair valves and treat certain conditions, and we’re continually pioneering new ways to use catheter interventions. With a commitment to advancing the field of interventional cardiology, our physicians engage in research related to complex angioplasties and serve on national heart organizations to advocate for the best cardiology care standards in medicine.
Conditions We Treat with Cardiac Catheterization
Many cardiovascular conditions can be successfully treated with a cardiac catheterization procedure, such as:
- Aortic stenosis
- Chronic total occlusion (CTO)
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
- Mitral valve stenosis
- Mitral valve regurgitation
- Pulmonary valve stenosis
- Angina that hasn’t responded to other treatments (refractory)
Symptoms of Heart Conditions
A doctor might order a cardiac catheterization procedure to diagnose or treat a problem in patients who have a heart attack or experience symptoms such as:
- Chest pain or chest tightness (angina)
- Pain in the upper body and arms, especially on the left side
- Jaw pain
- A feeling of indigestion
- Nausea, dizziness, or lightheadedness
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
Cardiac Catheterization Treatments
Cardiac catheterization tests and procedures include:
- Balloon angioplasty and heart stenting: To open a clogged artery and place a stent that acts as a scaffolding to keep the artery open
- Balloon valvuloplasty: To stretch narrowed heart valves
- Catheter ablation: To deliver focused energy to specific areas of the heart, creating tiny scars that stop irregular electrical pulses and correct abnormal heart rhythms
- Endovascular therapy: To clear blocked blood vessels
- Intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP): To temporarily help the heart pump blood
Cardiac Catheterization: What to Expect
Patients are given local anesthesia prior to cardiac catheterization procedures. Once the area is numb, the cardiologist makes a small puncture in the leg or arm and inserts a tiny flexible tube (catheter) with a camera on its tip into the artery to access the heart through the arterial system.
The doctor uses X-ray imaging to view the catheter and guide it to the site of interest, where the appropriate diagnostic and/or treatment procedures can be performed.
Once the cardiac catheterization procedure is complete, the cardiologist removes all catheters and guidewires and closes the small puncture.
Recovery is usually quick and with minimal pain.
UT Southwestern’s cardiac rehabilitation specialists create customized plans that integrate proper nutrition, exercise, and, if necessary, nicotine cessation into patients’ lifestyles to improve their cardiovascular health.
As one of the nation’s top academic medical centers, UT Southwestern offers a number of clinical trials aimed at improving the outcomes of patients with cardiovascular disease.
Clinical trials often give patients access to leading-edge treatments that are not yet widely available. Eligible patients who choose to participate in one of UT Southwestern’s clinical trials might receive treatments years before they are available to the public.