At University of Maryland Capital Region Health, our heart and vascular specialists use a variety of minimally invasive procedures in our Cardiac Catheterization Lab to diagnose and treat heart and vascular disease — advanced techniques that don’t require open surgery.

In many instances, our specialists can evaluate your condition and provide treatment in the same procedure.

Catheterization Procedures

Our doctors use diagnostic catheterization procedures to examine different areas of your cardiovascular system, as well as plan and evaluate treatment. Your doctor may use catheter-based procedures to:

  • Evaluate oxygen levels in different areas of your heart.
  • Examine the inside of arteries for plaque buildup.
  • Measure pressure and blood flow within your heart or arteries.
  • Take blood or tissue samples (biopsies) for further analysis.

Coronary Angiogram

A coronary (heart) angiogram lets your doctor see how blood flows through your arteries and heart. Once the catheter is in place, your doctor injects dye (contrast solution) to watch how it moves through an artery. This highlights blockages or narrowed areas in your arteries.

Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS)

Your doctor can use a catheter and an ultrasound probe to create pictures of the inside of your arteries. Ultrasound uses sound waves to create still and moving images.

Fractional Flow Reserve (FFR)

This technique allows your doctor to measure blood pressure and flow through the narrowed areas of your arteries. It can help your doctor determine if treatment to improve blood flow — such as angioplasty (removing plaque buildup from the vessel) or stent placement (an expandable mesh tube used to hold open the vessel) — is needed. Doctors use FFR to examine arteries near your heart, as well as arteries in your legs, stomach, arms and head (peripheral arteries).

Angioplasty and Stent Placement

Angioplasty opens narrowed or blocked arteries by inflating a tiny balloon (also called balloon angioplasty) in the vessel. In many instances, doctors place a stent in the artery to keep it open. This procedure can be used to restore blood flow in your:

  • Coronary arteries
  • Peripheral arteries
  • Carotid (neck) arteries (to prevent stroke)

At UM Capital, our Chest Pain Center team uses angioplasty to restore blood to the heart after a heart attack, as well as to prevent heart attack if your arteries are narrowed by plaque.

Endovascular Aneurysm Repair

An aneurysm is an abnormal widening or bulging out of a portion of an artery caused by a weakness in the wall of the blood vessel. Our endovascular surgeons repair the aneurysm by removing the weakened area and placing a stent (an expandable mesh tube) in the artery to restore the vessel wall.

Heart Device Implantation

Our heart specialists use catheters to implant pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) and other heart devices to treat arrhythmias. These devices deliver electrical impulses to the heart to restore a regular heartbeat.


Pericardiocentesis is a procedure to remove fluid from the pericardial sac, the tissue that surrounds your heart. Fluid can accumulate around your heart as a result of heart disease or trauma, kidney failure, cancer, infections and other health conditions.