Cardiology experts use an array of diagnostic procedures to identify or rule out various cardiac conditions. Cardiac catheterization provides visual pictures of your heart health and allows the cardiologist to view your heart from the inside as it functions without the use of surgery.
What Is Cardiac Catheterization?
Cardiac catheterization is a non-surgical, minimally invasive procedure that allows your cardiologist to take X-ray pictures of your heart to visually assess how well your heart is functioning. It is generally performed as an outpatient procedure.
Cardiac catheterization can be used to:
- detect the presence and severity of blockages in the arteries of the heart;
- evaluate the pumping action in the chambers of the heart;
- determine how well the heart valves are working;
- uncover abnormalities of the heart that may have been present since birth;
- detect possible damage from previous heart attacks, infections and/or trauma;
- check on the results of cardiac bypass surgery; and
- assess the function of the heart in relation to surrounding tissues
Who Performs Cardiac Catheterization?
The cardiac catheterization team at CentraState Medical Center includes a cardiologist with specialized training in catheterization, a specially trained registered nurse, and an X-ray technologist skilled in cardiac studies.
Scheduling and Preparing for a Cardiac Catheterization Test
Your cardiologist's office will contact the Cardiac Catheterization Lab to schedule your test, including pre-admission testing, which may include blood work, an EKG, and X-rays.
You will be asked to call CentraState's Centralized Scheduling department at (732) 294-2778 the day before your test to preregister. This will ensure that important paperwork is prepared before your arrival for your test.
Your cardiac catheterization nurse will call you the night before your procedure to let you know what time to arrive at the Cardiac Catheterization Lab. The nurse will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you may have. You will be asked to bring a written list of your medications, including names, dosages and frequency. You also will be reminded not to eat for six hours before your test is scheduled.
Arriving for Your Cardiac Catheterization Test
Please make arrangements to be transported to and from your appointment, as you will not be permitted to drive yourself home or to take public transportation (taxi service is OK) following your procedure.
The Cardiac Catheterization Lab is in the Donna O'Donnell, RN, Medical Arts Building adjacent to CentraState Medical Center. Take the elevator to the second floor and check in. When your scheduled appointment time arrives, you will meet with a nurse to answer some questions. You then will change into a hospital gown and your nurse will begin an intravenous (IV) medication line. You will be transported to the Cardiac Catheterization Lab when the team is ready to perform your procedure.
How Cardiac Catheterization Is Performed
In the Cardiac Catheterization Lab, you will lie on the procedure table and be placed on cardiac monitors. You will receive a local anesthetic at the site of catheterization and a mild sedative to help you relax. You will remain awake during the procedure.
Your cardiologist will thread a catheter—a thin, flexible tube—through a blood vessel in the crease of your elbow (brachial artery) or groin (femoral artery), and carefully advance it through the blood vessel and into your heart and its arteries, using X-ray guidance. Through the catheter, the physician also can measure pressures and take blood samples.
A contrast dye will be injected through the catheter into the heart's blood vessels and chambers. The cardiologist will watch on the X-ray monitor the movement of the dye through your heart and coronary arteries to identify any areas of narrowing or blockage. This portion of the test is called coronary angiography. The cardiac cath team also will perform a ventriculography, during which dye is injected into the heart's pumping chambers to give the cardiologist a view of the heart's pumping action.
X-ray pictures are taken in the Control Room adjacent to the Cardiac Catheterization Lab during the procedure and recorded digitally. They are used to help make a final diagnosis.
Recovery Following Cardiac Catheterization
After your cardiac catheterization, you will be taken to the recovery area where manual pressure will be applied to the catheter insertion site for about 15 to 20 minutes to prevent bleeding and swelling. If your doctor uses a vascular closure device to seal the catheter entry site, you most likely will not need the manual compression.
During recovery, your vital signs and pulse will be checked frequently. Fluids will be provided and you will be encouraged to drink so that the contrast dye can be flushed out of your system. Your intravenous line may remain in and your bandage will be checked often.
Your physician will determine your recovery time. When you are ready to go home, you will receive written discharge instructions to ensure a safe and quick recovery.
Getting the Results of Your Cardiac Catheterization
Your cardiologist will be able to share with you some preliminary findings at the conclusion of your procedure. Final results will be shared during your follow-up appointment.
For more information about CentraState's Cardiac Catheterization Lab, call (732) 303-5174.