Cardiac Catheterization

Table of Contents

Cardiac catheterization is a medical procedure performed to diagnose certain heart or cardiovascular problems. This procedure is usually for patients that frequently experience chest pain. You may require cardiac catheterization if you often have chest pain as it is one of the symptoms of coronary heart disease.

Purposes of Cardiac Catheterization 

The objectives of this medical procedure are:

  • Identify congenital heart disease.
  • Identify how well your heart valves are working.
  • Identify any heart infection or tumor.
  • Measure oxygen content and blood flow in the heart.
  • Locate narrowing carotid arteries that could reduce blood flow to the brain.

A cardiologist will perform the procedure — assisted by nurses and radiographers. The procedure usually takes place in an x-ray room or catheterization laboratory

Cost Estimation for Cardiac Catheterization

Each hospital may offer different costs for cardiac catheterization. 

For a more accurate cost estimation for cardiac catheterization procedure, contact Smarter Health.

Pre-Cardiac Catheterization

Prior to the procedure, you should let your cardiologist or healthcare team if you have certain allergies or are taking any medications. 

You will receive further instructions whether you may continue to take your medicines or not. Your doctor may also ask you not to eat or drink a few hours before the procedure.

Before the procedure, you will be given a local anesthesia. You will remain awake during the surgery, but may feel numb in the area operated on. 

Additionally, you may opt to be put under sedative to be more relaxed. Though, you will still remain conscious so you can still respond to your doctor. Your doctor may ask you to take a deep breath or hold your breath. 

During Cardiac Catheterization

Your doctor will have you connected to an electrocardiogram (EKG) throughout the surgery . ECG will record your heart rhythm and other activities. A number of electrodes will be placed in your arm, legs, and chest to aid in the ECG recording.

Here’s how your healthcare team usually perform a cardiac catheterization:

  1. In the laboratory, you will be asked to lie down on an operating table. If the catheter is inserted into the groin area, your groin will be shaved and cleaned with an antiseptic solution.
  2. You will be covered with a sterile sheet and given a local anesthetic.
  3. Your doctor will make a small incision in your groin or arm and insert a tube to keep the blood vessels open.
  4. The catheter will be inserted into a blood vessel to the heart with the help of X-rays.
  5. A small amount of dye called a contrast agent will be injected through the catheter. Your heart pressure will be measured.
  6. When the contrast agent is injected, you may feel a burning sensation or a metallic taste in your mouth. This is normal — your medical team will tell you when you will feel these sensations.
  7. You will not feel anything when the catheter is being inserted through a blood vessel. However, you may feel an irregular heartbeat rhythm.
  8. Your medical team will take X-rays of your heart and surrounding blood vessels (angiogram) The results will then be stored on a computer.
  9. In some cases, if a blood vessel becomes blocked, your doctor will perform a balloon angioplasty to dilate the blocked artery. This is usually discussed before the surgery and will only be performed in an emergency.
  10. The catheter and tube will be removed after the entire procedure has been completed.

Post-Cardiac Catheterization

After the procedure is complete, your heart rate and blood pressure will be checked and recorded. Your healthcare team will also check for any bleeding at the wound opening.

If the catheter is inserted through the groin, the nurse will press the opening for about 10 minutes to stop the bleeding after the catheter and tube are removed. Your doctor may use stitches or staples to close the surgical wound.

If the catheter is inserted through the arm, you will be given a blood pressure cuff. The pressure should gradually decrease after a few hours.

A few hours after the procedure, you should be able to sit up straight, get out of bed, and take a walk. You should always pay attention to your condition and let your healthcare team for any discomfort you feel after the procedure.

In some cases, you may be allowed to go home after the procedure, but you will need someone to pick you up at the hospital. You may also need a companion if you have to stay in the hospital. The wound will still be painful for about a week after surgery, while bruising may last up to two week.

Several things you should pay attention to after the procedure:

  • Avoid exercising, lifting heavy weights, and other  strenuous activity for two days.
  • You may remove the bandage in your groin the day after the procedure 
  • Do not take a showe for about two days after the procedure. If you really want to take a shower, make sure to keep the wound dry.
  • Do not drive until your healthcare team allows you to do so. 

Risks of Cardiac Catheterization

As with any medical procedure, cardiac catheterization also has some of its own risks. The following are some possible risks that may occur from the procedure:

  • Bleeding usually occurs if you lack vitamin K intake.  Vitamin K normally helps your blood clot so wounds do not bleed too much.
  • Bruising is a normal condition as a result of cardiac catheterization.
  • Bacterial and viral infections cannot be avoided. Surgical wounds often go unnoticed. Therefore, you must frequently clean your scars to prevent infection from bacteria and viruses
  • Blood clot is a wound healing mechanism. This is usually also called hemostasis.
  • Allergic reactions to medications or contrast agents — it is better if you check yourself for allergic reactions first to achieve a smooth procedure 
  • Tissue damage in the artery –– this could be because the catheter scratches a blood vessel
  • Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) — you may feel like your heart beats too fast, too slow, or irregular.
  • Heart attack — this may occur if you are neither stable nor calm during the cardiac catheterization procedure
  • Stroke is caused by the same factor of a heart attack. Although catheterization is meant to treat heart conditions, it is possible you may have a stroke and heart attack.
  • Air embolism is a condition when an air bubble enters a vein. This will cause blood vessel blockage. If symptoms of air embolism appear, it must be treated immediately as it may cause permanent organ damage.

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