Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a common invasive diagnostic test to evaluate the coronary arteries and heart valves and to look for heart muscle disease and cardiac congenital abnormalities. This procedure does not treat or cure heart disease, but it does give the cardiologist very precise information about your heart. This procedure may be ordered if you are having chest pain or have a positive nuclear stress test and prior to having heart valve surgery.

Angioplasty entails fixing an artery.  Multiple tools are available for such purpose (balloon, stents and/or rotational tools).  Your cardiologist will choose the tool that best fits your case.

Pre procedure instructions:
Lab work will be needed to be completed several days prior to the procedure along with a chest x-ray and EKG.  Do not eat or drink for 6 hours prior to scheduled time of procedure. Take all medications the morning of the procedure with sips of water. Coumadin needs to be held 3 days prior to procedure.  You will need someone to drive you home or you will need to make arrangements for transportation.

Post procedure instructions:
You may shower only - no hot tub, bath tub or swimming until the site is healed. You may feel a lump and/or mild tenderness at the site as well as some bruising Remove the dressing after 24 hours. Clean the site with mild soap and water and apply a clean dressing. Modify activity for 48-72 hours, no straining, lifting greater than 10 lbs. Expect some bulging in the area. If significant pain, swelling or bleeding in the access site, hold pressure and contact your physician.

What to expect:
An IV will be started for fluids and medications. A mild sedative will be given through the IV by an anesthesiologist and you will remain awake throughout the procedure. Adhesive skin electrodes will be applied to the chest and then attached to a heart monitor.

The cardiologist will then insert a catheter into your groin and gently guide it to the heart at the origin of the coronary arteries. Dye will then be injected into the arteries and x-ray pictures will be taken. Dye will also be injected into the heart chambers to evaluate the heart muscle function, pressure and heart valves. After the catheterization, you are monitored for 2-4 hours. In most cases you will be discharged to go home the same day.  If angioplasty of your heart artery takes place, you will spend the night in the hospital.