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Cardiac Catheterization

For people with suspected heart problems, cardiologists may recommend a cardiac catheterization to evaluate the heart muscle function or to evaluate and/or confirm the presence of coronary artery disease, valve disease, and disease of the aorta. If there is a known heart problem, this test will determine the need for additional treatment or surgery.

The Procedure

You will be given a mild sedative to relax you, but you will be awake and conscious. The doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb the catheter insertion site in your groin (femoral) or wrist (radial).

A long, thin flexible tube called a catheter is then inserted into either the femoral or radial artery by a cardiologist. The catheter is advanced through the artery with the aid of an x-ray machine until it reaches the correct position in the heart. A special dye is then inserted through the catheter and X-rays of the heart arteries are taken. The dye makes any blockages or narrowing of the heart’s arteries visible on the x-ray.

The procedure generally only takes 30 to 45 minutes, but the preparation and recovery time add four to eight hours to your stay, depending on the type of catheterization that you have.

Types of Catheterization

Your cardiologist will determine which insertion site, in your groin or your wrist, is best for you. This is based on your overall health and your anatomy, which includes the curvature and size of your blood vessels.

Femoral (Groin) Catheterization

The femoral artery is a large vessel in the leg that offers a safe and effective entry point for these procedures. After this procedure, patients are required to lie flat on their backs for approximately four to six hours after pressure has been applied to the insertion site to prevent bleeding. Most of the time, patients will remain in the hospital for eight hours or overnight following this procedure.

Radial (Wrist) Catheterization

This is a newer and more convenient procedure that is being offered now at Baptist. Approximately 80-85% of the catheter procedures at Baptist are now being done using the radial artery. After this procedure, patients can walk around much sooner and can sit up in a recliner. This technique has been shown to be less painful with a much lower complication rate. It can allow the patient to go home within a few hours after the procedure.

Catheterization at Baptist

Cardiac catheterizations at Baptist are performed in our state-of–the-art Cath Lab or, in cases where it needs to be performed along with cardiac surgery, in our Hybrid OR room.

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