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medical procedure by which a flexible plastic tube (catheter) is inserted into an artery or vein. It is used for injecting drugs for therapy or diagnosis, for measuring blood flow and pressure in the heart and central blood vessels, in performing procedures such as angiography (X-ray examination of the arteries and veins) and angioplasty (a procedure used to dilate obstructed arteries), and as a means of passing electrodes into the heart to study, restore, or regulate the heartbeat. Catheterization is central to the diagnosis, therapy, and surgical management of many forms of cardiovascular disease.