What is cardiac catheterization?
Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive cardiovascular health procedure that allows your physician to complete a variety of diagnostics and treatments. Your ECCA cardiologist guides a catheter through your major blood vessels to reach the damaged tissue.
Some of the diagnostic procedures your doctor can complete during cardiac catheterization include:
- Angiogram (locating blockages)
- Measuring oxygen levels and pressure in different heart chambers
- Assessing your heart pump function
- Taking a biopsy
- Diagnosing congenital heart defects
- Examining heart valves
Additionally, your physician can treat and repair some cardiovascular health issues, including:
- Narrowed or blocked arteries
- Holes and other congenital heart defects
- Faulty heart valves
- Blood clots
Cardiac catheterization is a conventional surgery because of the wide range of procedures that it enables cardiologists to complete.
What happens during a cardiac catheterization?
You usually have intravenous sedation during a cardiac catheterization procedure. The medicine helps you stay relaxed and comfortable, but you’re conscious and able to follow instructions.
When you are fully prepared for your procedure, your cardiologist begins by injecting a local anesthetic into the incision site, which is usually in your groin. Then, they make a small puncture through your skin and into a large blood vessel.
Your doctor places a sheath — a small straw-like device — into your blood vessel. Next, they insert the catheter through the sheath and feed it through your major blood vessels using ultrasound imaging until the catheter reaches the heart or blood vessel that needs treatment. You may feel some pressure in your groin, but the procedure isn’t painful.
Depending on the purpose of your cardiac catheterization, your cardiologist can put a variety of instruments on the tip of the catheter. Your doctor completes your specific procedure and withdraws the catheter and sheath.
Finally, your physician puts pressure on your puncture and may apply a suture to keep it closed. While you recover from your sedative, you need to keep your leg straight and rest. Before your physician releases you, they give you instructions on how to take care of yourself at home.
What should I expect after cardiac catheterization?
Depending on what procedure your physician completed during your cardiac catheterization, you should be able to get back to most of your regular activities within a day or two.
However, you should avoid strenuous physical activity until your doctor gives you the “all clear” at your follow-up appointment.
If you need an expert to perform a cardiac catheterization procedure, call ECCA or make an appointment online today.