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Illustration of cardiac catheterizationSpecialists on our medical staff use catheterization to diagnose and treat many heart problems. Unlike surgery, which requires large incisions, cardiac catheterization involves inserting a catheter, a thin flexible tube, through a small nick in the groin or wrist and guiding it to the arteries of the heart. This usually means you have less discomfort, heal faster, and get back to your life more quickly than with open heart surgery.

One of the most common procedures using catheterization is cardiac catheterization and angioplasty. In guests who may have blocked coronary (heart) arteries, a catheterization procedure using a dye can help the cardiologist know how much of the artery is affected by plaque that narrows or blocks the artery.

During the procedure, a balloon can be inserted and slightly inflated to push open the blockage to allow blood flow through the artery. Following the angioplasty (balloon procedure), a stent is placed to hold back the plaque. A stent is a small metal mesh scaffolding-like device through which the blood can flow more freely.

Watch a video illustrating cardiac catheterization »​

Cardiac catheterization with angioplasty is one of the best approaches to treating a heart attack. During a heart attack​, the faster an artery is open, the less damage the heart experiences. Specialists use cardiac catheterization to determine the extent of blockage in a guest’s heart and help open the arteries that are blocked.

Door-to-balloon time is an initiative that measures how much it takes to get a guest from the door of the ER to undergoing a balloon angioplasty to open an affected artery.

Specialists on our medical staff are also using the transradial arterial access approach for catheterization and interventions in select cases. Transradial artery access allows a cardiologist to insert a catheter through the radial artery in the wrist instead of the femoral artery in the groin to access the heart and arteries for diagnostic and treatment purposes.

These newer approaches usually help speed recovery and create quality outcomes for many of our guests. Patients also may benefit from these approaches by experiencing less bleeding, less risk of nerve trauma, lower rates of complication, shorter recovery, and a shorter length of hospital stay enabling “same day discharge.”

Patients should call 1.855.9BAYLOR for a referral to a physician on Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano​ medical staff that specializes in cardiac catheterization. Referring physicians may call 469.814.3565 to schedule a patient for evaluation.