Cardiac Catheterization

What is Cardiac Catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization is a medical procedure used to diagnose and treat some heart conditions. A cardiac catheter can be used to further evaluate coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, congestive heart failure and some congenital heart conditions.

During cardiac catheterization, a long thin flexible tube called a catheter is inserted in the body and threaded to your blood vessels to the heart.

Through the catheter, your doctor can perform diagnostic tests and heart disease treatments.

To schedule an appointment or for more information please call 314.747.9355 or toll-free 877.747.9355 or email us.

Diagnosing Heart Conditions

If a cardiac catheterization is used to diagnose a heart condition it can locate narrow or blocked blood vessels, measure oxygen levels in the heart, check the pumping functioning in the heart, heart biopsy, diagnose congenital heart defects and look for heart valve problems.

Treating Heart Problems with Cardiac Catheterization

A cardiac catheter can also be used to perform heart disease treatments, such as coronary angioplasty, pacemaker implantation, coronary artery stent placement and varicose vein ablation. Some other heart conditions that can be treated with cardiac catheterization are as follows:

  • Holes in heart
  • Congenital birth defects
  • Heart valve repair or replacement
  • Balloon valvuloplasty
  • Heart ablation
  • Prevent blood clots

Cardiac Catheterization Risks

The following are some risks that are associated with a cardiac catheterization procedure:

  • Bruising
  • Heart attack
  • Bleeding
  • Stroke
  • Arrhythmias
  • Kidney damage
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Artery damage
  • Air embolism
  • Allergic reaction
  • Death

Preparations for Cardiac Catheterization

The following information will help you prepare for your cardiac catheterization procedure:

  • Get a chest x-ray, blood test, electrocardiogram and urinalysis
  • Don’t eat or drink at least 6 hrs before test or as directed by your doctor
  • Inform doctor about all medications you take
  • Bring clothes and toiletry bag in case of overnight stay

How is a Cardiac Catheterization Performed?

Before the cardiac catheterization procedure, a nurse will insert an intravenous line in your arm to allow medications and fluids to be administered during the procedure. Electrodes will be placed on your chest and are attached to an electrocardiogram machine. This machine checks your electrical activity in the heart.

Usually, you will be awake during the cardiac catheterization procedure but given medications to help you relax.

During the procedure, a long, thin flexible tube called a catheter is put into a blood vessel in your arm, groin, or neck and threaded to your heart. When the catheter is in place, the lights will be dimmed and a small amount of contrast dye will be inserted through the catheter into the arteries and heart chambers. When the contrast dye makes it to the heart you may feel hot but this feeling will go away momentarily. At any time in the procedure the doctor may take photographs using an x-ray camera of the heart chambers and arteries. After all the photos have been taken, the catheter will be removed and the procedure is over. The procedure usually takes 30 minutes-1 hour and recovery time is quick.

Post-Procedure Instructions

After a cardiac catheterization procedure, you will be sent to a recovery room and monitored for several hours. The doctor will tell you when you can go home and the next steps including follow-up care, treatment or future procedures.

For more information on cardiac catheterization or to schedule an appointment with our Heart Center, please call 314.747.9355 or toll-free 877.747.9355 or email us.