Cardiac catheterization involves passing a thin flexible tube (catheter) into the right or left side of the heart. The catheter is most often inserted from the groin or the arm.
Catheterization - cardiac; Heart catheterization
How the Test is Performed
You will get medicine before the test to help you relax.
The health care provider will clean a site on your arm, neck, or groin and insert a line into one of your veins. This is called an intravenous (IV) line.
A larger thin plastic tube called a sheath is placed into a vein or artery in your leg or arm. Then longer plastic tubes called catheters are carefully moved up into the heart using live x-rays as a guide. Then the doctor can:
Collect blood samples from the heart
Measure pressure and blood flow in the heart's chambers and in the large arteries around the heart
Measure the oxygen in different parts of your heart
For some procedures, you may be injected with a dye that helps your doctor to visualize the structures and vessels within the heart.
If you have a blockage, you may have angioplasty and a stent placed during the procedure.
The test may last 30 - 60 minutes. If you also need special procedures, the test may take longer. If the catheter is placed in your groin, you will often be asked to lie flat on your back for a few to several hours after the test to avoid bleeding.
You will be told how to take care of yourself when you go home after the procedure is done.
How to Prepare for the Test
You should not eat or drink for 6 - 8 hours before the test. The test takes place in a hospital and you will be asked to wear a hospital gown. Sometimes, you will need to spend the night before the test in the hospital. Otherwise, you will come to the hospital the morning of the procedure.
Your health care provider will explain the procedure and its risks. A witnessed, signed consent form for the procedure is required.
Tell your doctor if you:
Are allergic to seafood or any medications
Have had a bad reaction to contrast dye or iodine in the past
Fraker TD Jr, Fihn SD, Gibbons RJ, Abrams J, Chatterjee K, Daley J et al. 2007 chronic angina focused update of the ACC/AHA 2002 Guidelines for the management of patients with chronic stable angina: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines Writing Group to develop the focused update of the 2002 Guidelines for the management of patients with chronic stable angina. Circulation. 2007;116:2762-2772.
Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.