In this section...
Cardiac catheterization is a relatively simple process of inserting a thin plastic tube into a vein or artery. The plastic tube is threaded to the heartís chambers to check and analyze the pressure and oxygen content and the catheter can also be threaded into the coronary arteries to check their patency. Usually the procedure is performed on a patient who has been sedated and has not eaten during that day. Cardiac catheterization is most commonly performed when cardiac dysfunction is suspected.
In cardiac catheterization, x-ray imaging focuses on the coronary arteries, heart chambers, major vessels, and valves to check for possible defects. Once the catheter is placed in the heart or the coronary vessels, the dye is injected to facilitate x-ray imaging. Besides imaging, this technique allows for pressure and oxygen content analysis.
In the lab...
Safety Precautions: Infants less than 1 month old and elderly patients older than 80 years have an increased risk of death during cardiac catheterization. Studies have shown that elderly women have a statistically higher risk then elderly men. In addition, patients who have a history of valvular heart disease, renal insufficiency and diabetes are at higher risk for problems associated with the procedure.
Orientation of Patient: The patient lies on his or her back on a bed. To begin the procedure, a small needle is used to puncture the groin, wrist, or neck. Then the catheter, aided by a guidewire, is inserted and advanced through series of blood vessels.
Length of Scan: Cardiac catheterization usually takes from 2 to 3 hours. However, after the procedure, patients should be kept immobile for at least 4 to 6 hours.