Cardiac Catheterization - Diagnostic

This is a procedure in which a small flexible tube is guided through a large blood vessel that leads to the heart.

This is a procedure in which a small flexible tube is guided through a large blood vessel that leads to the heart.

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure that involves guiding a small flexible tube, called a catheter, into a large blood vessel that leads to the heart. The catheter is gently threaded toward the heart using x-ray guidance. This is done to examine and evaluate the function of different parts of the heart, such as the valves and the muscles that make up the main structure of the heart.

  • The blood vessels that feed the heart (coronary arteries) are also examined.
  • A special dye or an ultrasound may be used to create pictures of the heart's blood vessels.

A cardiac catheterization may be recommended if you have heart failure (when the heart does not pump as efficiently as it should), episodes of chest pain or an abnormal electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) with certain risk factors. It may also be recommended if your healthcare provider suspects that you have other heart symptoms. It can also be done to evaluate a heart problem you were born with (also known as a congenital defect). The procedure is done by a cardiologist in a hospital or outpatient facility.

  • Most people go home the same day of the procedure.
  • You may be given some medicine to relax. However, you will be awake for your test and may feel some mild discomfort where the catheter is inserted.
  • If the catheter is placed in your groin, you may to lay flat on your back for several hours to avoid bleeding at the insertion site.

Prior to the procedure, tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements), if you have a seafood allergy or you have had problems with any type of dye in the past. Ask about specific instructions you should follow before the procedure. These may include:

  • Medications you should not take before the surgery, such as blood thinners
  • Regular medications you should take on the day of your procedure
  • How many hours you should stop eating and drinking before the procedure
  • Special considerations if you have kidney disease or diabetes

It is important to understand procedures your healthcare provider recommends. You should ask questions, such as those outlined below, before having a cardiac catheterization. This is because many conditions that previously required a cardiac catheterization can now be managed with less invasive tests and procedures.

  • What is my diagnosis and reason for the procedure?
  • Why is a cardiac catheterization necessary, as opposed to a less invasive test or procedure?
  • Are there any alternatives to this test in diagnosing my symptoms?
  • Do I need to fast before the procedure and, if so, for how long? Is there any other special preparation for the procedure? (If so, get clear instructions on what you need to do.)
  • Will I have any type of sedation? What are the possible side effects?
  • How will I feel after the procedure and will I have to modify my activity?
  • What are the possible complications for this procedure?
  • Are the facilities where you perform the procedure designated as UHC Premium Facilities for cardiac tests and procedures?

After your catheterization, your healthcare provider should provide a description of any problems found during the procedure and what symptoms you should report. You should also understand all home care instructions (including medications and side effects) and follow-up plans. Do not forget to make arrangements for transportation to and from the facility and help at home.


Also known as:

Positive Stress Test
Myocardial Infarction
Heart Problem
Heart Muscle Damage
Heart Disease
Heart Defects
Heart Attack
Diagnostic Catheterization
Coronary Artery Disease
Chest Pain
Cardiac Catheterization - Diagnostic
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