Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive procedure in which a cardiologist places a catheter inside the heart and performs diagnostic examinations and treatment procedures.

Advanced Techniques, Remarkable Results

Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center are pioneering new ways to use catheter intervention.

Our expert cardiologists use catheters to replace and repair valves, treat chronic total coronary occlusions, and relieve chronic chest pain caused by refractory angina.

With a commitment to advancing the field of interventional cardiology, our physicians engage in research related to complex angioplasties and serve on national heart organizations to help push for the best standard of care across the entire medical field.


When heart disease causes arteries and valves to become blocked, cardiac catheterization can help assess the damage and open the blockage, without the need for surgery.

Heart disease can lead to numerous blockage problems, including:

  • Aortic stenosis
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Chronic total occlusion
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Mitral stenosis and mitral regurgitation 
  • Pulmonary stenosis
  • Refractory angina


Your doctor might order a cardiac catheterization for diagnostic or treatment purposes if you exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain or chest tightness (angina)
  • Heart attack
  • Pain in the upper body and arms, especially on the left side
  • Jaw pain
  • A feeling of indigestion
  • Nausea, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath


Cardiac catheters may be used to administer a drug or for a number of other procedures that open an artery to improve blood flow. Cardiac catheterization tests and procedures include:

  • Balloon angioplasty and stenting to open a clogged artery and place a stent that acts as a scaffolding to keep the artery open
  • Balloon valvuloplasty to stretch narrow valves
  • Catheter ablation to deliver focused energy to specific areas of the heart, creating a tiny scar that stops irregular impulses and corrects abnormal heart rhythms
  • Endovascular therapy to unblock blood vessels
  • Intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP), which is a short-term catheter solution to help the heart pump blood

Cardiac Catheterization Procedure

In a cardiac catheterization, a patient receives local anesthesia. The doctor makes a small puncture in the leg or arm and inserts a catheter into the artery in the leg or arm to access the heart. Once gaining access through the arterial system, the physician can perform a variety of procedures.

By taking images with X-rays, the doctor can view the catheter and guide it to the site of interest.

Once the procedure is complete, all catheters and guidewires are removed and the small puncture is closed. Cardiac catheterization recovery is often quick and with minimal pain.

Clinical Trials

Our cardiologists are actively involved in research related to cardiac catheterization procedures.

When appropriate, patients have access to cardiology clinical trials that may offer medical therapies and medications that are not yet available to the general public.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at UT Southwestern’s facilities in Dallas or for more information about our services, please fill out the Request an Appointment form or call 214-645-8300.