Cardiac catheterization is a radiological procedure for both diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions. It involves the insertion of a long thin flexible tube called catheter a vein or an artery to the heart.
The common insertion site for the catheters are groin, arm or neck. An interventional cardiologist
can do this procedure. It is performed in a sterile "catheterization laboratory" or "Cath lab"
. During catheteriztion, contrast material (also called dye) is injected and X-ray images can be viewed live or recorded for future references.
Cardiac catheterization can be done at any age
, including for new borns. The procedure approximately takes an hour or more depending on the condition for which it is performed. In the United states, more than one million Americans have angiograms and cardiac catheterization done every year. More than half of these patients have angioplasty or bypass surgery to improve blood supply to their heart.
Claude Bernard was the first to catheterize a horse in the 19th century.
The first person to try and insert a catheter into a human heart was Werner Forssmann, in 1929. He had performed this act on himself under the guidance of fluoroscopy. Back then, it was considered a disapproving act until 1956 when he was recognized and awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology along with André Cournand and Dickinson W. Richards.