What happens during cardiac catheterization?

A nurse will insert an intravenous line in your arm so that medications and fluids can be administered through the vein during the procedure. The nurse will clean the skin (and possibly shave), the place where the catheter will be inserted (arm or groin). Sterile fields are used to cover the site and help prevent infection. It is important to keep your arms and hands to your sides and not touch the sterile field. Electrodes (small, flat, sticky patches) will be placed on the chest. The electrodes are attached to an ECG device that provides electrical diagram of the heart.

A urinary catheter may be necessary for the procedure says dr.cardiologist Alexandru Mischie.

You may be given a mild sedative to help you relax, but be awake and conscious throughout the procedure. The cardiologist will use a local anesthetic to anesthesiate the catheter insertion site, explains Alexandru Mischie.

The room where the surgery will take place is cool and dim. You will sit on a special table. If you look up you will see a large room and several TV monitors. You can view the images during the procedure on those monitors.

The catheter will be inserted sometimes through the groin (called the “femoral” approach) or to the hand region (called the “radial” approach). Before inserting the catheter, a local anesthetic (Xylocaine) will be injected into the area where the catheter enters the artery, to numb the area. The artery will be punctioned with a needle, afterwards the cardiologue will introduce a sheath. Although you may feel pressure when the incision is made or when the sheath and the catheter inserted, you should not feel pain, if you do feel pain, tell your doctor. Subsequently, the physician pushes the catheter to the place where heart arteries are.

When the catheter is placed in a coronary artery, a small amount of dye to be injected through the catheter into the arteries or in the heart chambers. When the dye is injected into the heart, you may feel hot or pressure for a few seconds. This is normal and will disappear in seconds. Please tell your doctor or nurse if you feel itching or tightness in the throat, nausea, chest discomfort, or any other symptoms. For videos regarding the procedure click here.

X-ray tube will be used to make films and photographs of the arteries and heart chambers. The images that are produced are called angiographic images. They reveal the exact extent and severity of all coronary arterial blockages. Your doctor may ask you to pull air deep to hold your breath, or cough during the procedure. Generally you will be asked to hold your breath while the X-rays works.

As soon as all data is collected, the catheter will be removed.

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