Cardiac Catheterization

What's it for?

A cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive diagnostic test. (This means that everything is done through a very small incision.) The test is used, along with an angiogram, to detect blockages in the arteries of the heart and diagnose heart disease and heart attack.

How it's done

You are given medication through an IV to help you relax. Your blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen level are monitored throughout this procedure.

After you are given an anesthetic to numb the area, then a small incision is made in either your thigh or forearm. A long, thin tube called a catheter is inserted into an artery and a thinner tube known as a guidewire is used to guide the catheter into the various arteries of the heart.

Your physician will track the course of the catheter through the blood vessels by viewing moving x-ray pictures displayed on a screen that is similar to a TV monitor. This advanced scanning device allows the x-ray images to be enhanced so that problem areas may be clearly and accurately identified.

You may feel a palpitation or nothing at all.

What is an angiogram?

Strictly speaking, cardiac catheterization refers only to the catheter insertion, but it is very unlikely that you will undergo cardiac catheterization without having an angiogram. The coronary angiogram is the x-ray picture of the arteries of the heart. A special dye, known as a contrast dye, is injected into the arteries that supply blood to the heart via the catheter so that the x-rays can be taken. The angiogram can be used to pinpoint the location and severity of coronary artery disease, including blocked arteries and abnormalities in the heart wall. Because it is unlikely that you will undergo cardiac catheterization without having an angiogram, the two terms are used interchangeably.

Technology and expertise at Lee Health

Lee Health is the largest hospital system in Lee County, with an excellent reputation for cardiovascular care.

We offer cardiac catherizations at two locations: HealthPark Medical Center in Fort Myers and Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers.

The cardiac catherization labs at Lee Health are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We offer many procedures that are not available anywhere else in the region.

We are one of the only health systems in the region to perform catheterizations through the arm, using the radial artery approach. We are actively involved in the latest research, and able to consistently provide our patients with the most advanced and safest procedures.

Lee Health has doctors who perform a high volume of many procedures. Research shows that those physicians which perform the highest volume of a procedure generally have the best outcomes.

Who to contact

For questions related to cardiovascular care or services, email us at