Health&Fitness Talk

Supporting Healthy Life Styles

Cardiac Catheterization Cardiac Catheterization
Cardiac catheterization is a procedure Drs use to diagnose and even treat certain heart problems. The Dr can see what the problem is,... Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure Drs use to diagnose and even treat certain heart problems.  The Dr can see what the problem is, increasing his/her knowledge of a problem that is already known to exist and even treat or correct problems.  There are many reason’s your Dr may want to do a cardiac catheterization including find any blockages or narrowing in your blood vessels, measure the amount of oxygen and pressure in your heart.  The Dr can also diagnose congenital heart defects and determine their severity as well as check for problems with the valves in your heart.  The Dr can even take samples of tissue from your heart if needed.
What the Dr does is insert a small flexible tube known as the catheter into the large artery that goes down your leg known as the femoral artery.  These catheters are not that much bigger than the ones they use in your arms for IV’s.  The Dr will numb the area the he/she is planning on using to enter, usually the groin.  Cardiac catheterizations are always done in a hospital and usually require an overnight stay.  You will be awake and made to lie flat on your back during the procedure.  Your Dr  will have explained the procedure before  bringing you into the operating room but will talk you through everything once you get to the operating room.  The Dr will use a needle to create a small hole in your artery to allow a “sheath”, which is a tapered tube, to be inserted, very similar to when the nurse starts an IV in your arm.  Once the sheath is in place the Dr will insert a tiny guide wire that he/she will use to thread through the artery to the heart.  There will be an x-ray machine there that your Dr will be watching as the wire move through the artery to your heart.  This helps the Dr place the catheter in the correct spot.  Then the Dr will insert the catheter over the guide wire through the sheath and up to your heart.  Once the catheter is in place your Dr will begin testing and/or treating.
There are numerous problems that your Dr can diagnose and/or treat during cardiac catheterizations including angioplasty which is when the Dr threads a tiny balloon through the catheter to the area that is blocked or narrowed and then he/she expands the balloon to open up the vessel.  Frequently the Dr will also place a tiny metal coil known as a stent in the blood vessel to keep it open reducing the chance of it closing again.  There are also congenital heart defects that can cause holes in your heart.  In addition to being able to place a stent in a blood vessel your Dr can close these holes without the risks involved with open heart surgery.  Drs can also repair weak and/or leaky valves either by replacing it or threading a tiny balloon to the area of the valve that is leaking and inflate it .  Your Dr can also remove any clots found as well.  Drs can also treat cardiac arrhythmias by using the catheter to create scar tissue to develop on your heart therefore rerouting the electrical signals that make your heart beat.
After the procedure is finished you will be required to lay flat and as still as possible for several hours.  In some facilities the Dr will loosely tie the ankle of the leg that was used down to remind you not to move it.  A nurse will check the pressure dressing as well as your bllod pressure and heart rate every 15 minutes for the first 1-2 hours, however you will be kept in an area where medical personnel can see you at all times whether or not they are in your particular cubical or room.  Because there is more pressure in the arteries the potential for the opening to reopen is much higher than like when an IV is removed from a vein and takes longer to heal.  You may have a bruise over the site and you may notice that the area feels sore for a week or so.  Before leaving the hospital your Dr as well as a nurse will give you instructions on care of the insertion site as well as activities to avoid in order to prevent complications. Always report any bleeding especially if it is a large amount at the insertion site that you are unable to stop by using pressure.  Call your Dr if there is any redness swelling an increase in pain or other signs of infection to your Dr immediately.