Cardiac catheterization

Definition

Cardiac catheterization involves passing a thin flexible tube (catheter) into the right or left side of the heart, usually from the groin or the arm.

How the Test is Performed

You will get medicine before the test to help you relax.

The health care provider cleans a site on your arm, neck, or groin and inserts a line into one of your veins. This is called an intravenous (IV) line.

A larger thin plastic tube called a sheath is placed into a vein or artery in your leg or arm. Then longer plastic tubes called catheters are carefully moved up into the heart using live x-rays as a guide. Then the doctor can:

If you have a blockage, you may have angioplasty and a stent placed during the procedure.

The test may last 30 - 60 minutes. If you also need special procedures, the test may take longer. If the catheter is placed in your groin, you will usually be asked to lie flat on your back for a few hours after the test to avoid bleeding.

You will be told how to take care of yourself when you go home after the procedure is done.

How to Prepare for the Test

You should not eat or drink for 6 - 8 hours before the test. The test takes place in a hospital and you will be asked to wear a hospital gown. Sometimes, you will need to spend the night before the test in the hospital. Otherwise, you will come to the hospital the morning of the procedure.

Your health care provider will explain the procedure and its risks. A witnessed, signed consent form for the procedure is required.

Tell your doctor if you:

How the Test Will Feel

The study is done by trained cardiologists with the assistance of trained technicians and nurses.

You will be awake and able to follow instructions during the test.

You may feel some discomfort or pressure where the catheter is placed. Some people have some discomfort from lying still during the test or from lying flat on your back after the procedure.

Why the Test is Performed

In general, this procedure is done to get information about the heart or its blood vessels. It may also be done to treat some types of heart conditions, or to find out if you need heart surgery.

Your doctor may perform cardiac catheterization to diagnose or evaluate:

The following procedures may also be done using cardiac catheterization:

Risks

Cardiac catheterization carries a slightly higher risk than other heart tests. However, it is very safe when performed by an experienced team.

The risks include:

Possible complications of any type of catheterization include the following:


Review Date: 6/18/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, Washington. David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.