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​​The arteries around your heart that supply blood to the heart muscle are called coronary arteries.  Sometimes these arteries are narrowed or blocked.  A cardiac catheterization is a test that is done to look at these arteries and to look inside your heart.  You will be taken to the Cardiac Cath Lab.  A small catheter will be inserted into your heart through an artery or a vein.  Dye will be injected to allow the doctor to see the blood flow in your heart and coronary arteries, and X-rays pictures will be taken. 

Before The Procedure
A few basic ideas of what to expect before, during and after the procedure may decrease some anxiety of your hospitalization.

  • You will be asked to sign consent forms after your doctor has explained the procedure, and its risks.
  • Most patients are told not to eat or drink anything after midnight.  Please ask your nurse.
  • One or both of your groins will be shaved.
  • You will need to empty your bladder and wear only a hospital gown.
  • Tell the doctor or nurse if you are allergic to shellfish, iodine, x-ray dye or any medications.
  • You may be given some medications to help you relax; you will not be put to sleep, but you may become very drowsy.
  • You will be taken to the Cardiac Cath Lab. 

During The Procedure

  • You will be lying on a hard table, surrounded by x-ray equipment.  There will be patches on your chest that will have wires connected, which go to a machine that monitors your heart.
  • The equipment is sensitive to heat; the room is kept cool - around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • A local anesthetic (numbing medication) will be applied to the groin area.
  • The doctor will insert a small tube under the skin and into the vessel, ​much like an IV is started.
  • An x-ray dye is injected which may cause a "hot feeling".  You may be asked to follow simple commands to help your doctor with the procedure such as "cough", or "take a deep breath and hold it".
  • Inform your doctor how you are feeling, or if you have chest discomfort, nausea, shortness of breath.
  • The length of the procedure depends on a number of factors.  An hour is typical. If it takes longer, that does not necessarily mean there is a problem.
  • Your heart rate and blood pressure will be watched closely. 

After The Procedure

  • You may have one or two IV lines left in your groin for several hours or overnight.  You must stay in bed and not bend the leg to prevent bleeding.
  • When the IV's are removed, a C-clamp (a mechanical device) will be used to apply pressure to your groin for at least one hour.
  • It will be several hours before you can get out of bed to prevent any bleeding at the insertion site.
  • Please feel free to ask questions about this procedure, we want you to feel as comfortable as possible about your cardiac catheterization.