Cardiac Catheterization and Percutaneous Coronary Intervention
A cardiac catheter is a hollow tube inserted into an artery and guided into the heart using x-ray imaging. Cardiac catheterization is often used to examine the health of the heartís main chamber, as well as the condition of the arteries leading to the heart. If a blockage is found in the coronary arteries, a physician may order a percutaneous coronary intervention as a non-surgical means of treating the blockage.
During a percutaneous coronary intervention, a cardiac catheter is placed into the coronary artery at the site of the blockage. A physician then uses water to inflate a small balloon attached to the catheter. The pressure from the balloon pushes the plaque into the artery wall, restoring the inside of the artery for proper blood flow. A small mesh tube called a stent is used to hold the artery walls open where the blockage once was.