Key Points about Cardiac Catheterization

  • Cardiac catheterization is a procedure to evaluate your heart diagnose heart conditions.
  • During cardiac catheterization, doctors insert a long narrow into an artery or vein.
  • Cardiac catheterization is performed in a hospital by a cardiologist and a team of medical professionals. 

Overview

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure used to diagnose and treat heart conditions. It looks at how well your heart functions. Depending on what your cardiologist determines is the underlying condition, cardiac catheterization is used to diagnose other diseases such as disease of the heart muscle, valves or coronary arteries. It is also used to treat a heart condition, such as narrowed or blocked areas of a coronary artery.

Candidates for cardiac catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is done to help your doctor determine if you have a heart condition. In some cases, the procedure is done to better understand a known condition.

Cardiac catheterization enables your doctor or cardiologist to:

  • Locate blockages in veins and blood vessels
  • Measure blood pressure
  • Measure oxygen levels in and around your heart
  • Recover a small sample of tissue from your heart
  • Monitor your heart valves

Risks associated with cardiac catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a common procedure. Risks associated with it can include:

  • Bruising where the catheter was inserted.
  • Mild reaction to the dye used in the X-ray to monitor
  • Damage to the artery or area around the heart
  • Infection
  • Blood clots

Preparing for cardiac catheterization

Like most surgeries, you likely will need to refrain from eating or drinking starting at midnight the day of your procedure.

Your doctor will give you instructions regarding any medications you’re taking.

Duration of cardiac catheterization

Before the procedure, you will be given an IV to help administer fluids and a sedative. You’ll be awake and able to follow instructions during the procedure.

A local anesthetic is usually given to numb the puncture site, which is usually in the groin area.

The procedure usually lasts around an hour.

Recovery from cardiac catheterization

While the cardiac catheterization only takes a small amount of time, recovering from the procedure can take a few hours while the sedative wears off.

Unless the cardiac catheterization is performed during a hospital stay, you will likely go home the same day.