Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac Catheterization is also known as heart cath or angiogram. This is a non-surgical procedure performed in the Catheterization Lab. It helps measure many things related to the heart such as blood pressure, and how much oxygen is in the blood. Cardiac Catheterization also determines how well the heart and valves are working, reveals any damage, and provides other information about the pumping ability of the heart muscle. 

Procedure Preparation

Please arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled time of the procedure. It's important not to eat or drink anything after midnight before your procedure. If you are diabetic, ask your doctor about insulin and food intake prior to the procedure. If you take medications and/or blood thinners, be sure to ask your doctor what schedule you should follow the day before and the day of your procedure. Make arrangements to be driven home.

The Procedure

The patient remains alert during this one hour procedure, but a mild sedative is given to help with relaxation. A small area of the groin or arm is shaved and cleaned and then a numbing medication is used so a small incision can be made where the catheter will be inserted. This may cause a slight burning or stinging sensation. Next, using a fluoroscopic or x-ray camera, the doctor guides a long, thin, flexible plastic tube into the coronary arteries of the heart. A colorless x-ray dye is injected through the catheter. This may cause you to experience slight nausea and/or a hot or flushed feeling. Pictures of the arteries and heart chambers are taken as the x-ray dye flows through your arteries. The x-ray dye allows pictures or your heart's vessels, valves, chambers by outlining all of your hearts structures.

After x-rays are completed, the catheter is removed. You will be observed for a few hours to make sure you are feeling well. The insertion site will be checked frequently. A knot may occur under the skin where the catheter was inserted but only lasts temporarily. Bruising may occur in the area of the leg/groin where the catheter was inserted and may spread down the leg but this is only temporary.

After the Procedure

Avoid bending the leg at the hip (groin area) for 6-8 hours after the catheter is removed. Hold the bandage firmly if you need to cough or sneeze. Avoid bending or using the arm for several hours if it was used for the insertion of the catheter. Drink plenty of liquids to clear the contrast material from your body.

Schedule a follow up appointment with your Cardiologist 2 days after the procedure by calling our Specialty Clinic at (360) 414-2730.

Signs and Symptoms

If you experience any of these symptoms, report them immediately:

  • Discomfort or sudden pain at the insertion site.

  • A warm, moist and sticky feeling, or bleeding.

  • Any discomfort in chest, neck, jaw, arms or upper back, shortness of breath, weakness or dizziness.

For more information on cardiac catheterization, please call:

Cardiovascular Lab
(360) 414-7337