Cardiac catheterization provides access to the heart with tiny, flexible catheters introduced into the heart or the heart’s blood vessels for diagnostic and treatment purposes.
Non-surgical procedures, like angioplasty, are performed with physician-guided catheters directly to the site of disease or injury. Catheter-based technology has expanded into procedures that attack plaque in the arteries on a number of fronts with micro balloon and cutting catheters, and stents able to travel through the network of vessels in and around the heart, neck and extremities to fight cardiovascular disease. During balloon angioplasty, a catheter is inserted through an artery in the groin or forearm. A small balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated to push the fatty plaque blocking the artery back against the artery wall. Balloon angioplasty is nearly always combined with stent placement, with a tiny wire-mesh tube is inserted into the artery to prop it open.