What Is Cardiac Catheterization?

There are a number of cardiac specialists in the Valley who utilize Scottsdale Liberty Hospital for their complex surgical procedures. One of these procedures is called cardiac catheterization, and it is a minimally invasive surgery that examines the function of your heart. You may be considered a candidate for this procedure if you have a family health history of heart disease, or if you’re at risk of developing a disease that affects the heart muscle, valves, or coronary arteries. This procedure is somewhat unique because it is performed in conjunction with a coronary angiography, which is a special x-ray test of the heart.

Before explaining what happens during cardiac catheterization, the cardiac surgeon at Scottsdale Liberty Hospital wants to first discuss why patients undergo this procedure. As mentioned previously, cardiac catheterization is primarily a diagnostic tool that identifies health issues, like blockages, in the heart’s arteries. During the procedure, your cardiac surgeon may complete the following:

  • Take x-rays of narrowed or blocked coronary arteries.
  • Use stents to open up blocked segments of a coronary artery.
  • Remove heart tissue for a biopsy.
  • Check the pressure of the four heart chambers and take blood samples to measure oxygen levels in these areas.
  • Look for any defects in the heart, like the pumping chambers and whether or not they contract blood efficiently.

While this procedure is considered safe, there are certain risks and minor complications that could arise. For example, patients may develop an allergy to the contrast dye, causing their skin to break out in hives or their stomachs to become upset. Additionally, patients may develop bruising and tenderness around the surgical site. The cardiac surgeon at Scottsdale Liberty Hospital will discuss these possible side effects with patients before their procedure.

Before the surgeon performs this procedure, an intravenous sedation line will be administered into the arm of the patient to help them relax. Patients may be surprised to learn they will be awake throughout the procedure. Do not worry, the procedure itself is virtually painless, and many patients enjoy watching the procedure take place through the TV screen present in the operating room.

Once the anesthetic has taken effect, the cardiac surgeon will insert a catheter through a blood vessel in your arm and into your heart. This thin, flexible tube may also be inserted into a blood vessel in the groin if the physician cannot find a quality vein in the arm. The procedure varies from patient to patient because the cardiologist may measure pressures, take blood samples, or inject dyes into your coronary arteries.

For patients who receive the contrast dye, this step in the process helps your cardiac surgeon determine whether or not there are any discrepancies in the arteries. After the procedure, patients must have a friend or loved one drive them home. This is required for patients who’ve been administered a sedative. If you have questions or concerns about your upcoming cardiac catheterization procedure, call Scottsdale Liberty Hospital. The team will ensure you get in touch with your surgeon so that you can be prepared for your procedure.

For more information on Scottsdale Liberty Hospital and how we can help you or a loved one, visit our information request page, or contact us at 480-586-2300

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.