Download Understanding Cardiac Catheterization

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shows that your heart is just fine. If there is a
problem, your physician will discuss all possible
What can I do when I return home?
Be sure to make arrangements to have a
friend or family member drive you 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.
Call your physician if:
The insertion site bleeds
You feel chest pain or discomfort
Your arm or leg (at the insertion site) feels
numb or cold
The bruising or swelling gets worse or increases
If you have a fever or signs of infection (redness
or oozing) appear at the insertion site
You experience any other unusual symptoms
What are the risks?
This is called an invasive procedure because a
catheter is inserted into the body. As with any
procedure of this type, there can be some risk
involved. Please ask your physician to discuss the
risks and benefits so that you are fully informed.
It is important to be your own best health
advocate. A good way to do that is by committing to routine physical exams and diagnostic
tests as often as is recommended by your cardiac
specialist. Early detection of heart disease is the
key to effective treatment.
Saint Elizabeth
Regional Medical Center
Saint Elizabeth
Regional Medical Center
What is cardiac catheterization?
How do you prepare for this procedure?
Cardiac (heart)
catheterization is a
diagnostic procedure
that provides your physician with information
that cannot be obtained
by any other means.
The procedure is
sometimes referred
to as a coronary
angiogram or coronary
arteriography and is simply
a special x-ray test used to look at the
arteries and chambers of the heart.
A cardiac catheterization is NOT
surgery. It is a diagnostic study that
generally takes about one hour
to complete.
Several routine tests are done before a
cardiac catheterization:
■ Blood tests (less than one week prior)
■ Medical history and exam
■ Chest x-ray
What does cardiac
catheterization show?
This procedure helps physicians
diagnose heart conditions such as
coronary artery disease, defective heart
valves, or congenital heart defects
(defects you are born with). Cardiac
catheterization also provides important
information about the heart’s pumping
function. The heart may not be working
as effectively as it should be resulting in
fluid build-up. It fails to provide the
body with the oxygen-rich blood and
nutrients that it needs. This is usually
a chronic condition which is treated
but can not be cured. Treatment
can help prevent the build-up of
fluid, therefore reducing the
You will receive specific instructions about what
to eat or drink. Generally, you may have nothing to
eat or drink six to eight hours before the
Some suggestions to help you prepare:
In case your physician decides you need to stay
overnight, pack a small bag with toiletries, robe
and slippers.
Do not bring any valuables.
Bring your current medications in their
original bottles.
Your physician will tell you which medications
you may take on the day of your procedure.
Arrange for someone to drive you home.
Be sure to tell your physician or technician if you
are allergic to x-ray dyes and shellfish.
Empty your bladder for your own comfort before
your procedure starts.
What should I expect?
The procedure is done in a catheterization
laboratory (also called cath lab). Generally, you will
arrive the morning of the day of the procedure.
You will likely go home later that same day, unless
you are already a patient of the medical center.
You will be awake during the procedure, which
usually takes less than one hour to complete. If you
have a balloon angioplasty or other procedure,
more time will be required.
The groin area will be cleansed and shaved.
A local anesthesia is injected and a small tube, or
sheath, is
inserted into the
artery in your arm or leg.
You may feel a little pressure.
The procedure begins when
your physician inserts a thin,
flexible tube (called a catheter)
through the sheath into the artery.
The catheter is passed toward your
heart. As this is done, the physician
and technicians check the TV
monitors to follow the catheter’s
movement to the heart.
Next, a contrast dye is injected
through the catheter. This helps
your physician pinpoint where the
problem with your coronary arteries
might be.
When the
procedure is
your physician
will remove the
catheter. A
nurse or
technician will
apply pressure for
15–20 minutes or
your site will be
Following a cardiac
catheterization, your
closed with suture or
nurses watch you
other device.
carefully. Most people
After the procedure, you
have no pain and are
may be asked to remain
able to go home on the
lying down. The nurses will
same day.
watch you carefully, take
your blood pressure, and check the site
frequently to make sure there is no bleeding.
You will be asked to drink a lot of fluids to flush
the dye out of your system. Most people have no
pain, and, in most cases, you will go home the
same day.
Your physician will return to explain the test
results. Sometimes cardiac catheterization