Cardiac Catheterization

In this procedure a doctor guides a thin plastic tube called a catheter through an artery (or vein) in the wrist or leg into the heart, and into the coronary arteries in the heart. This test can measure blood pressure, how much oxygen is in the blood, and provide other information about the pumping ability of the heart muscle. Primarily this test uses a catheter to inject contrast dye into the coronary arteries to determine if there are blockages known as coronary artery disease.

This is termed coronary angiography or coronary arteriography. Cardiac Catheterization is a very common diagnostic test performed thousands of times a day. This procedure is referred to as the “Gold Standard” of tests for determining coronary artery disease (CAD). The findings from this test will help your doctor determine the best treatment plan for you.

Preparing for your Cardiac Procedure:

  • You will not be able to drive following your procedure, so please make transportation arrangements.
  • Try to drink at least eight, 8 oz. cups of water the two days before your procedure.
  • On the day of your procedure, do not eat breakfast. You may have a glass of water.
  • You may take your medications as usual, except for diabetes medications. Do not take any diabetes medications the morning of your procedure or any other medications that your doctor instructed you not to take.
  • Please bring your medications with you to the hospital. Allow 3-4 hours for your visit with us. The procedure takes 45 minutes on average.

 When You Arrive:

  • You will check in at the “Same Day Surgery Registration” on the second floor. The “North Entrance” is the closest entrance to this registration location.
  • Give your order for procedure (in the paper work from your physician) to the registration clerk.
  • The registration clerk will ask you a few questions to update your information in the computer. Be sure to bring your insurance card with you if you have one and an identification card such as a driver’s license.
  • You will be shown to the Cardiovascular Holding Area where you will be greeted by the team that will be caring for you.
  • You will be greeted by a Nurse who will prepare you (IV insertion, medication, paperwork, etc.) for the procedure.
  • Please be sure to give your Nurse any papers that your physician gave you to bring to the hospital.

During the Procedure:

  • In the Cardiac Cath Lab, you will be transferred onto an X-ray table, which has a large X-ray camera above it and computer screens nearby. (You may wear your glasses if you would like to watch the procedure on the screens.) You will remain awake during the procedure so you will be able to follow the Physician’s instructions.
  • The Cardiac Cath Lab Nurses and Technologists will further prepare you for the procedure by: placing EKG patches on your chest to monitor your heart rate, cleansing the wrist and groin area with antiseptic solution, and covering you with a sterile sheet. The staff will be wearing sterile gowns, gloves, masks, and hats.
  • You may be given a mild sedative through your IV to help you relax. Your doctor will then administer a numbing medicine to the wrist or groin, causing a slight burning or stinging sensation. Your doctor will then insert the catheter into your artery located in the wrist or groin.
  • The procedure usually does not cause pain, although you may feel some pressure at the insertion site.
  • Be sure to let the Nurses know if at any time you feel dizzy, nauseated or have chest discomfort so they can provide you with medication.
  • Most patients who do not need further immediate treatment will receive a closure device at the incision site and will be discharged after one hour.

 Post Procedure:

  • After the procedure, if no further immediate treatment is necessary, you will be taken to the recovery area and you will be allowed to resume eating and drinking.
  • Your blood pressure, pulse, and wrist or groin (incision site), will be checked frequently for the next hour.
  • Your Cardiologist will discuss the findings of your test, and treatment options with you and your family before you leave the hospital.
  • You will receive written instructions about the care of your incision site prior to discharge.

If you have any questions about this procedure or need to locate a Cardiologist, you may call our Cardiology Department at (252) 384-4703.