MetroHealth's Heart and Vascular Center is located at 2500 MetroHealth Drive.
Services are also provided at community-based health care facilities throughout Cuyahoga County and at The Senior Health & Wellness Center.
For more information, call (216) 778-BEAT (2328).
MetroHealth Heart & Vascular Center
Diagnostic Left Heart Cardiac Catheterization
What is a Cardiac Catheterization?
An invasive imaging procedure that involves inserting a plastic catheter into a blood vessel in the arm or leg, and guiding it to your heart with the aid of a special x-ray machine. Contrast dye is injected through the catheter so that x-ray movies of your valves, coronary arteries and heart chambers may be taken.
What is a Cardiac Catherization Used for?
- Checks for the presence of heart disease (such as coronary artery disease, valve disease or disease of the aorta)
- Evaluates the heart muscle function
- Determines the need for further treatment (angioplasty, stent or bypass surgery)
What Can I Expect?
- Prior to your procedure, tests may be scheduled such as blood work, electrocardiogram (ECG), and chest x-ray. These may be done at a separate appointment, or the day of the procedure
- Catheterization is commonly done as an outpatient procedure, although some patients are hospitalized (inpatients)
- You can wear whatever you like to the hospital. You will wear a hospital gown during the procedure.
- If you normally wear dentures, glasses or a hearing assist device, plan to wear them during the procedure to assist with communication.
- Your doctor or nurse will give you specific instructions about what you can and cannot eat or drink before the procedure.
- Ask your doctor what medications should be taken on the day of your test. You may be told to stop certain medications, such as Coumadin (warfarin, a blood thinner).
- If you have diabetes, ask your physician how to adjust your medications the day of your test.
- Tell your doctor and/or nurses if you are allergic to anything, especially iodine, shellfish, x-ray dye, penicillin-type medications, latex or rubber products (such as rubber gloves or balloons).
- You may or may not return home the day of your procedure. When you are able to return home, arrange for a companion to bring you home.
- Please bring a list of your medications (including over-the-counter) and dosages. When you arrive for your appointment, please tell your nurse if you are taking Coumadin (warfarin), Plavix (clopidogrel), diuretics (water pill) or insulin.
- You will be given a hospital gown to wear. A nurse will start an intravenous (IV) line in your arm so that medications and fluids can be administered during the procedure.
- You will lie on a special table and you will be able to watch your cardiac cath on the monitors.
- The nurse will clean your skin at the site where the catheter (narrow plastic tube) will be inserted (arm or groin). The catheter insertion site may be shaved.
- Sterile drapes are used to cover the site and help prevent infection. It is important that you keep your arms and hands down at your sides, under the sterile drapes.
- Electrodes (small, flat, sticky patches) will be placed on your chest. The electrodes are attached to an electrocardiograph monitor (ECG), which monitors your heart rate and rhythm.
- You will be given a mild sedative to relax you, but you will be awake and conscious during the entire procedure.
- In some cases, a catheter may be placed into your bladder during the procedure.
- The doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb the site. A plastic introducer sheath (a short, hollow tube through which the catheter is placed) is inserted in a blood vessel in your arm or groin. A catheter will be inserted through the sheath and threaded to the arteries of your heart. You may feel pressure as the introducer sheath or catheter are inserted, but you should not feel pain. Tell the nurse or doctor if you feel any pain.
- A small amount of contrast material will be injected through the catheters into your arteries and heart chambers. The contrast material outlines the vessels, valves and chambers.
- When the contrast material is injected into your heart, you may feel hot or flushed for several seconds. This is normal and will go away in a few seconds.
- Please tell the doctor or nurses if you feel:
- Itching, tightness in the throat (allergic reaction)
- Chest discomfort
- Any other symptoms
- The x-ray camera will be used to take photographs of the arteries and heart chambers. You will be asked to hold your breath while the x-rays are taken. When all the photos have been taken, the catheter will be removed.
- You may have an interventional procedure combined with your cardiac catheterization. Click here to learn more about interventional procedures.
After the Procedure:
- The catheters and sheath are removed.
- If the catheter was inserted in the arm: The incision will be bandaged. You will need to keep your arm straight for at least an hour. You will be observed for a few hours to monitor any symptoms or side effects of the procedure
- If the catheter was inserted at the groin: The incision will be closed with applied pressure, suture device or a "plug." A "plug" is a material which works with your body's natural healing processes to form a clot in the artery. You will need to lie flat and keep the leg straight for two to six hours to prevent bleeding (less time if a plug was used). Your head cannot be raised more than 30 degrees (2 pillows high). Do not try to sit or stand.
- A sterile dressing will be placed on the cath site to protect it from infection. The nurse will check your bandage regularly, but call your nurse if you think you are bleeding (have a wet, warm sensation) or if your toes begin to tingle or feel numb.
- You will need to drink plenty of liquids to clear the contrast material from your body. You may feel the need to urinate more frequently. This is normal. If you are on bedrest, you will need to use a bedpan or urinal.
- Your doctor will tell you if you are able to return home or will need to stay overnight. In either case, you will be monitored for several hours after the procedure.
- Treatment, including medications, diet and future procedures, will be discussed with you prior to going home. Care of the wound site, activity and follow-up care will also be discussed.
- The cardiac cath procedure only takes about 30 minutes, but plan to spend about 5 to 9 hours from the preparation through the recovery time.
Please ask your doctor if you have any questions about cardiac catheterization.