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A cardiac catheterization is a diagnostic procedure that provides details about your heart's performance. Because the procedure does not require surgery, recovery is faster, with less pain and fewer complications.

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center's Cardiac Catheterization Lab uses sophisticated imaging technology and implements best practices for patient care before, during and after procedures. Patient safety and quality are always our paramount goals.

Patients are our first priority in everything we do. You can expect the best medical treatment delivered with care, compassion, clear communication, and responsive service. Every member of our cardiac team treats each patient with the understanding and support we would give to our own families.

Why Perform a Cardiac Catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization often determines the need for further treatment or surgery. With catheterization, MedStar Health cardiologists can:

  • Determine the pressure and blood flow in the heart's chambers
  • Collect blood samples from the heart
  • Examine the valves and arteries of the heart
  • Identify heart abnormalities


A few days before your cardiac catheterization, you will receive preliminary screenings including an EKG, blood tests (less than one week prior), a medical history and exam, and a chest X-ray. You will receive specific instructions about what to eat and drink and which medications to take on the day of the procedure. Generally, you may have nothing to eat or drink six to eight hours before the procedure.

On the procedure day:

  • Pack a small bag of overnight clothing in case your doctor decides you need to stay overnight.
  • Do not bring any valuables.
  • Bring a list of medications (with exact names and dosages) that you currently take.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home.
  • Be sure to tell the doctor or technician if you are allergic to X-ray dyes or seafood.


The procedure is performed in a catheterization laboratory (also called a cath lab). Generally, you will arrive on the morning of the day of the procedure. You will possibly go home later that same day, unless you are already a patient in the hospital.

You will be awake during the procedure, which usually takes less than an hour for catheterization only. If you have a balloon angioplasty or other procedure, more time will be required.

Sometimes cardiac catheterization will show that your heart is just fine. If there is a problem, your doctor will discuss all possible treatments.

Returning Home

Make arrangements to have a friend or family member drive you home and to have someone stay with you the night you go home. Avoid heavy lifting and do only light activities for a few days.

You may have a small bruise or lump the size of an olive under the skin at the insertion site. This should go away in a few weeks.

Location Information

For a physician referral, please call 877-74-HEART (43278).

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
9000 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237