Cardiac Catheterization Services

Cardiac catheterization is a nonsurgical procedure that can diagnose or treat certain heart problems. In cardiac catheterization, specialized doctors known as interventional cardiologists send a narrow tube (catheter) through a blood vessel to your heart. They may perform angioplasty, also called percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI.

MUSC Health provides advanced cardiac catheterization services. Our team is the only heart team in South Carolina to offer a comprehensive array of minimally invasive treatment for chronic total coronary occlusion.

Why Choose MUSC Health for Heart Catheterization?

Whether you need diagnosis of a new condition, or you need repeated treatment for an ongoing concern, you’re in good hands at MUSC Health. We offer:

  • Fast heart attack care: Door-to-balloon time (D2B) is a measure of the speed of heart attack treatment and a major predictor of heart attack survival. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) recommend D2B time should be 90 minutes or less from when a patient arrives to when they receive PCI. MUSC Health’s current D2B time is 58 minutes.
  • Expert heart doctors: MUSC Health’s cardiac catheterization team offers minimally invasive treatment from expert heart doctors. Many doctors in South Carolina and the region refer their patients to us for complex heart care. Meet our team.
  • Nonsurgical chronic total occlusion care: Total coronary occlusion is a completely blocked artery due to coronary artery disease. Our team is South Carolina’s most highly trained and experienced group opening these arteries without surgery.

Our Cardiac Catheterization Lab

Our advanced cardiac catheterization lab is located above the MUSC Health Chest Pain Center. This proximity means we can provide rapid diagnosis, workup and treatment for people who may be having a heart attack or other heart emergency.

The catheterization lab is also near our hybrid operating rooms (OR), where we perform combined surgical and interventional cardiology procedures. When necessary, we can quickly transfer patients from the cath lab to the hybrid OR for heart surgery or vascular surgery. Having many members of our team nearby adds a layer of safety for cath lab patients.

Cardiac Catheterization Treatments

In our cardiac catheterization lab, we evaluate and treat all types of coronary artery disease. Our doctors perform complex coronary interventions and use stents to open blood vessels. Treatments we deliver through heart catheterization include:


Angioplasty clears blockages in blood vessels to alleviate chest pain or damage from heart attacks. An interventional cardiologist guides a balloon-tipped catheter (thin tube) through an artery in your arm or leg up to your heart. At the blocked or narrowed part, the doctor inflates the balloon to open the passage, then deflates and removes the balloon catheter.


Using a catheter with a burr (rotating cutting tool) or laser on the end, your doctor can destroy and remove plaque that has built up inside of a blood vessel. Most often, doctors use atherectomy to remove plaque in the coronary or carotid arteries. MUSC Health also offers atherectomy to treat peripheral artery disease (PAD). Find out more about PAD treatment.

Chronic Total Coronary Occlusion Care

Chronic total coronary occlusion means that coronary artery disease has resulted in a completely blocked coronary artery, for three months or longer. MUSC Health offers South Carolina’s only expertise in resolving chronic total coronary occlusion. We provide a minimally invasive alternative to a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG). See more on CABG and other heart surgery and procedures.

Heart Valve Repair and Replacement

Catheter-based treatment can manage some heart valve problems. Advanced heart valve treatment, such as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), is done in the cath lab. Learn more about our heart valve surgery.

Left Atrial Appendage Closure

Left atrial appendage (LAA) closure, also called LAA occlusion, is an advanced technique to prevent stroke. It may be an option for people with AFib (atrial fibrillation, a type of arrhythmia) who cannot take blood-thinning medications. This procedure uses a device, such as the WATCHMAN™ device or the LARIAT® device, to close off the LAA, a part of the heart where clots are likely to form. Read more about arrhythmia devices.

Protected PCI

Our team specializes in protected PCI for complicated coronary interventions where the patient may need extra heart support. In protected PCI, your doctor uses a catheter to place the Impella® heart pump inside your left ventricle (lower heart chamber). The Impella helps your heart beat while interventional cardiologists repair coronary artery blockages. After the catheterization, the doctor removes the heart pump through the same catheter.

Robotic PCI

Our team performs routine angioplasty as well as complicated and high-risk coronary interventions. MUSC Health offers the most advanced tools, including robotic coronary intervention, for precise treatment. Robotic coronary intervention provides your interventional cardiologist with robotic assistance to measure and treat the heart’s tiny blood vessels precisely.


During angioplasty, your doctor may choose to place a small metal mesh tube called a stent into the newly opened artery. The stent remains in place permanently and acts like a scaffold to keep the artery open. Vascular surgeons may use covered stents called stent grafts. Learn more about Vascular Surgery.

Thrombolytic Therapy

Medications can dissolve blood clots that are blocking major arteries or veins. In the cath lab, we can deliver the medication through the catheter, directly to the blockage. This treatment is a first-line treatment for strokes, heart attacks, or pulmonary emboli (blood clots in the lung’s blood vessels). We work closely with the neurologists at MUSC Health’s Comprehensive Stroke Center.