A cardiac catheterization lab (cath lab) is a procedure room, much like an operating room, that has specialized imaging capabilities allowing us to visualize blockages in the coronary arteries. Cath labs are also used to diagnose patients with heart valve disorders, heart disease, and peripheral arterial disease. Fluoroscopy, a type of X-ray, is used in the cath lab to view the function of the heart and vascular system.
Cardiac catheterization involves inserting a catheter, a long thin tube, into a blood vessel usually in the leg or arm, and feeding the catheter to the heart where a cardiologist can diagnose and treat heart conditions. These catheters can also be used to diagnose and treat conditions of the vascular system throughout the body.