What is the Purpose of a Cardiac Catheterization/Vessel Angiogram?
This non-surgical diagnostic test is done with x-ray technology to aid in diagnosing heart problems, like coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease or vessel of the limbs, kidneys, carotids, brain, etc. It provides necessary information to help you, the patient, along with your physician decide on the best course of treatment necessary.
What will I See, Feel, and Hear During the Procedure?
The Cath lab has the same temperature and environment as an operating room. There is large equipment located in the room needed to gain necessary information about your heart and vessels. You will be placed on a narrow table and connected to the equipment to monitor your heart rhythm and vital signs. You will be awake during the procedure. A sedative will be given to you to help you relax. Next, an Associate will prep/scrub the area (arm or groin). Once prepped, the physician will inject a local anesthetic to that area to numb the skin. You may feel pressure as the catheter is put into the vessel. From this point on through the procedure you should not feel any more discomfort in that area. During the procedure dye is injected through the catheter and X-ray pictures are taken to view your heart's arteries or other vessels the physician has planned to view. Tell the doctor or Associate if you have any chest pain, nausea, shortness of breath, or any other discomfort during the test. You will hear the Associates and physicians talking and calling out technical terms; however, this is part of the procedure and you should not be alarmed. The physician or Associate will address you directly if your help during the procedure is needed.
A heart catheterization usually lasts less than an hour. For all other procedures time may vary but you and your family will be given updates on the length of the procedure.
What happens after the procedure?
After you return to your room your vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, and rhythm, will be checked frequently for the next four to eight hours. The nurse will also check for signs of bleeding at the site where the catheter was placed. The pulses of your arms and legs will also be frequently monitored. If a catheter was placed in your groin, you will be on bed rest for a period of four to eight hours and asked not to bend the leg where the catheter was placed.
After you go home drink plenty of fluids for the first 24 hours. The dressing on your groin may be removed after 24 hours. You may shower after the dressing has been removed.