Marquette General Heart Institute
The walls of the coronary arteries are normally smooth and flexible, so blood flows through them easily. Over the years, fatty deposits can narrow the arteries and limit the flow of blood to the muscle of the heart. This can lead to angina symptoms or a heart attack. If your doctor thinks you may have coronary artery disease, he or she may recommend a cardiac catheterization.
Preparation for a cardiac catheterization-
You may need to have some routine blood tests, EKG, and a chest x-ray before your procedure. You will be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight the day of your test and you will need to sign a consent form. The nurse will shave and wash your groin areas, this is where the catheter will be inserted. An IV will be started to give medications throughout the test. You will be encouraged to watch a video about your test.
Catheterization will be preformed in a "cath lab." Once in the lab you will be placed on a table under movable x-ray equipment. You will be hooked up to an EKG and a finger probe that will measure your blood oxygen continuously. You will be draped with sterile sheets. The doctor will come in and feel for your pulse in your groin. A local anesthetic will be injected to "numb" up the area. This will sting and burn much like a bee sting. A small tube or catheter is inserted, you may feel some pressure during this part. After that you shouldn't feel much of anything; the other catheters used are inserted through the first tube. The catheters are guided up through your aorta and to your heart. Your doctor will inject a contrast dye material and use x-ray to place the catheters and to take the pictures. One of the pictures will make you feel hot and flushed from head to toe. The doctor injects a large amount of contrast dye into your left ventricle (pumping chamber); the dye then circulates through your body. This allows the doctor to see how effectively your heart is pumping blood. A movie is made of your heart activity, to help the doctor determine the best treatment for you. Catheters will be changed several times to look at the different arteries. Several pictures at different angles will be taken to get a 3 dimensional view of your arteries. You will be awake during the procedure. You may get chest pain during the injections of dye, which should last only a few seconds.
After the procedure is complete, the catheter will be removed and pressure will be held on the artery in your groin area to assure that bleeding has stopped. You will be brought to the Outpatient Cardiac Unit, where you will remain in bed for 2-6 hours depending on your specific situation. Your nurse will check on you frequently, but if you feel any pain in the groin site or anything warm and runny, notify your nurse right away. You will need to drink a lot of fluid to flush the dye through your kidneys. Your doctor will discuss the findings of your procedure and formulate a plan for you.