Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac Catheterization is a procedure that is performed to examine how well your heart is working.

November 2, 2022

Cardiac Catheterization is a procedure that is performed to examine how well your heart is working.

Some facts about Cardiac Catheterization:

  • A thin, hollow tube called a catheter is inserted into a large blood vessel that leads to your heart to find out if you have any disease of the heart muscle, valves or coronary (heart) arteries.
  • The pressure and blood flow in your heart can be measured during the procedure,.
  • Coronary angiography (PDF) can also be done during cardiac catheterization.
  • A contrast dye visible in X-rays is injected through the catheter during the procedure.
  • X-ray images shows where arteries are blocked, since it shows the dye as it flows through the heart arteries
  • Information on how well your heart works can be provided by a cardiac cath.
  • Problems can also be identified and it allows for procedures to open blocked arteries.

Preparation for Cardiac Catheterization:

  • Instructions will be given about what to eat and drink during the 24 hours before the test.
  • Usually, you should not eat or drink anything for six to eight hours before the cath procedure.
  • Inform your doctor about any medicines (including over-the-counter, herbs and vitamins) you take as you may be asked not to take them before your cath procedure
  • Inform our doctor if you are allergic to anything, especially shellfish, latex or rubber products, iodine, medicines like penicillin, or X-ray dye.

Procedure for Cardiac Catheterization:

  • X-rays can be taken during cardiac cath using contrast dye injected through the catheter to look for narrowed or blocked coronary arteries, which is called coronary angiography or coronary arteriography.
  • A percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) such as coronary angioplasty can be performed with stenting to open up narrowed or blocked segments of a coronary artery.
  • The pressure in the four chambers of your heart can be checked.
  • Samples of blood can be taken to measure the oxygen content in the four chambers of your heart.
  • The ability of the pumping chambers to contract can be evaluated.
  • Defects in the valves or chambers of your heart can be identified.
  • A small piece of heart tissue can be removed to examine under a microscope (biopsy).
  • An IV (intravenous) line will be put into a vein in your arm so you can get medicine (sedative) to help you relax.
  • However, you will be awake and able to follow instructions during the procedure.
  • The nurse will clean and shave the groin area where the doctor will be working
  • Usually, a local anesthetic will be given to numb the needle puncture site.
  • A needle puncture will be made through your skin and into a large blood vessel and a small straw-sized tube (called a sheath) will be inserted into the vessel by the doctor.
  • A catheter (a long, thin tube) will be used by the doctor to gently guide into your vessel through the sheath.
  • The position of the catheter is shown by a video screen as it is threaded through the major blood vessels and to the heart.
  • You may feel some pressure in your groin, but not any pain.
  • Various instruments are placed at the tip of the catheter, using which the pressure of blood in each heart chamber and in blood vessels connected to the heart can be measured, the interior of blood vessels can be viewed, blood samples from different parts of the heart can be taken, or a tissue sample (biopsy) can be removed from inside the heart.
  • The catheters and the sheath will be removed after the procedure. 
  • Pressure will be put by the nurse on the site to prevent bleeding.