Cardiac catheterization utilizes a small plastic tube, called a catheter,
which is inserted into a vein or artery and gradually moved to the heart.
The catheter, which is usually inserted in the groin or arm, is inserted
after the entrance region has been cleansed and numbed. Patients are commonly
awake, but mildly sedated.
Once inside the heart, x-rays are taken of these vessels, and various
cardiac functions are studied. If needed, a number of specialized treatments
can be performed simultaneously. Primary uses of cardiac catheterization include:
Angiography (or angiogram): This diagnostic test utilizes dye, injected through the catheter, enabling
the images of the coronary arteries to be displayed on a monitor. These
images reveal the size and location of any blockages and can help measure
the pumping ability of the heart.
Non-Surgical Intervention: This is a procedure used to remove blockages from arteries, restoring
proper blood flow to the heart. Non-surgical interventions include angioplasty,
emergency coronary angioplasty, and stent implantation.
Heart rate, rhythm, and blood pressure are closely monitored throughout
these tests. The procedures are relatively pain free, and usually last
between 30 minutes and two hours. Recovery is fairly rapid from these
procedures, and patients are usually released the same day or the following
day. More significant interventions may require longer hospital stays
as directed by your cardiologist.