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Cardiac (Heart) Catheterization

What Is Cardiac Catheterization

Catheterization procedures involve threading a long tube (catheter) into the arteries to bring miniature cameras and instruments to a disease site in the heart or blood vessels.

A cardiac (heart) catheterization procedure allows doctors to:

  • Evaluate chest pain
  • Identify narrowed or blocked arteries
  • Restore blood flow to threatened heart tissues, without surgery, by:
    • Using the catheter to reopen the blocked artery
    • Holding the artery open with a small, meshwork collar called a stent

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has one of the largest and most experienced diagnostic and interventional cardiac catheterization programs in the United States.

Our specialists perform more than 23,000 heart catheterization procedures each year.

Conditions We Treat at UPMC's Cardiac Catheterization Labs

Our state-of-the-art heart catheterization labs provide UPMC experts with the most modern imaging technology to diagnose and treat cardiovascular diseases.

Staffed around the clock with specialists in emergency catheterization, we treat acutely ill patients — including many who arrive by helicopter from regional community hospitals.

We also evaluate and treat:

UPMC cardiologists have experience in treating the most difficult cardiac cases using:

  • Stents
  • Intravascular ultrasound
  • Distal embolic protection devices
  • Rotational atherectomy
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT)

Our interventional cardiologists routinely help in evaluating and treating patients in UPMC's Heart Transplant Program.

They also have an active program in treating peripheral arterial disease, including:

  • Carotid artery disease
  • Renal artery disease
  • Lower extremity vascular disease

Innovations in Cardiac Catheterization

  • Our cardiac catheterization program is one of the first in the country to use drug-coated stents, which release a drug into the blood-vessel wall that significantly decreases the likelihood of renarrowing.
  • Our cardiologists also have developed a method to totally support heart function in critically ill patients without the use of surgery.
  • We have a dedicated transradial cardiac catheterization program. In select patients, this approach allows for diagnostic and therapeutic cardiac catheterization via the radial artery in the wrist, instead of the traditional leg approach.

Learn More About Heart Catheterization

UPMC Patient Education Materials:

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