Cardiac Catheterization is a medical procedure where in a long, thin, flexible tube(Catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel in the arm, neck or upper thigh and threaded into the heart. Prior to this, a local anaesthesia is given to numb that particular area where a small puncture is made for the entry of a guide wire. Through this guide wire, the catheter is inserted into the blood vessel and reaches the heart. Once the catheter has reached above the aortic valve, the guide wire is removed.
Once the catheter is put in place, blood samples from the heart are taken, the blood pressure and blood flow in heart’s chambers are measured and ‘real time’ x-ray images of the heart are taken to examine the arteries. Through the catheter, various diagnostic tests and treatment can be done.
The test is done by cardiologists. The test may last for 30-60minutes. Sometimes, the doctor may advice the patient to eat or drink 6-7 hours prior to the test time. Once the test is over, the catheter is removed. At the time of removal of the catheter, a firm pressure may be felt. This is to prevent excessive bleeding at the insertion site.
Cardiac catheterization is a slightly risky procedure, compared to other heart tests, but when performed by a skilled doctor is very safe.
Following a cardiac catheterization, the patient is asked to refrain from any exercise or exertion. They are not to lift heavy load or involve themselves in strenuous exercise. Care should be taken of the incision site so as to prevent a sore or swelling. It is also advisable that the patient does not drive for 24hours post procedure.
In most case, cardiac catheterization is recommended when an arterial block is suspected. A catheterization procedure can help evaluate the functioning of the heart and also acquire information about the blockages. Cardiac catheterization is a slightly risky procedure, compared to other heart tests, but when performed by a skilled technician or doctor is very safe.