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Alternative Names Return to topCatheterization - cardiac; Heart catheterization
Definition Return to top
Cardiac catheterization involves passing a 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 Return to top
You will be given a mild sedative before the test to help you relax. An intravenous (IV) line is inserted into one of the blood vessels in your arm, neck, or groin after the site has been cleansed and numbed with a local numbing medicine (anesthetic).
A catheter is then inserted through the IV and into your blood vessel. The catheter is carefully threaded into the heart using an x-ray machine that produces real-time pictures (fluoroscopy). Once the catheter is in place, your doctor may:
How to Prepare for the Test Return to top
If possible, you will be asked not to 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 be admitted as an outpatient or an inpatient the morning of the procedure.
Your health care provider should explain the procedure and its risks. A witnessed, signed consent for the procedure is required.
Tell your doctor if you:
How the Test Will Feel Return to top
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 will usually get a mild sedative 30 minutes before the test to help you relax. The test may last 30 - 60 minutes.
You may feel some discomfort at the site where the catheter is placed. Local anesthesia will be used to numb the site, so the only sensation should be one of pressure at the site. You may experience some discomfort from having to remain still for a long time.
After the test, the catheter is removed. You might feel a firm pressure, used to prevent bleeding at the insertion site. 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. This may cause some mild back discomfort.
Why the Test is Performed Return to top
In general, this procedure is done to get information about the heart or its blood vessels or to provide treatment in certain types of heart conditions. It may also be used to determine the need for heart surgery.
Your doctor may perform cardiac catheterization to:
The following may also be performed using cardiac catheterization:
What Abnormal Results Mean Return to top
The procedure can identify heart defects or disease, such as:
The procedure also may be performed for the following:
Risks Return to top
Cardiac catheterization carries a slightly higher risk than other heart tests, but is very safe when performed by an experienced team.
Generally, the risks include the following:
Possible complications of any type of catheterization include the following:
Considerations Return to top
Cardiac catheterization may include coronary angiography.
References Return to top
Davidson CJ, Bonow RO. Cardiac Catheterization. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa; Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 19.Update Date: 4/23/2009 Updated by: Steven Kang, MD, Division of Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology, East Bay Arrhythmia, Cardiovascular Consultants Medical Group, Oakland, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.