Cardiac Cath Lab
What is a Cardiac Cath?
A cardiac examines the arteries around your heart in order to find narrowing or blockages that could be causing your symptoms. Cardiac cath is sometimes referred to as an angiogram or arteriogram. During a cardiac catheterization, pictures are taken of the coronary arteries using dye (special radiopaque contrast) injected through a flexible tube about the size of spaghetti directly into the coronary artery. The Cardiologist will view the films and determine the presence or absence of blockages and or narrowing. If you have blockages or narrowing, the Cardiologist may elect to do an angioplasty (balloon) or place a stent in your artery to keep it open.
Preparing for Your Cath Procedure
Your groin area will be shaved in preparation for the procedure. An IV will be started in your left hand or arm and you will be given IV fluids. You will be connected to an EKG machine and your heart rate and rhythm, and blood pressure will be monitored. Cath Lab personnel will also place a light on your finger to measure your oxygen saturation. You will be asked to use the bathroom prior to going in to the procedure. You may be given a medication to relax you during the procedure. If you are allergic to shellfish or iodine, you must inform the doctor and the staff of this prior to the procedure in order prevent an allergic reaction.
Ready To Go To The Lab
Once you are ready for the procedure, your nurses will come to the preoperative area and get you. You will be identified by name band and asked for your name and birth date. You will be asked if you have allergies, if you need to go to the bathroom. Then, you will be taken to the cath lab and placed on an x-ray table. There will be a round tube above you that will rotate around your heart area.
The cath lab is very cold but you will be given warm blankets. You will be connected to several monitors. During the cardiac catheterization, the pressure in your heart will be measured to determine the strength of the heart muscle, how the heart is managing the volume of blood that returns to your heart, and how the left ventricle is pumping.
Your groin area will be cleansed with antiseptic solution and you will be covered with a sterile drape. A radiology technician or registered nurse will assist the doctor with your procedure; there will also be a circulating nurse and a monitoring technician present through out the procedure.
Your Cardiologist will feel for your pulse on your groin area and he will inject local anesthetic to make the area numb. He will then insert a needle to access your femoral artery. He will thread a wire through the needle, and place a sheath (spaghetti-sized about 6 inches long) in your femoral artery.
Findings and Interventions
After reviewing the films, the Cardiologist may find that your coronary arteries are partially or totally blocked, or narrowed. Depending on the findings, the decision to perform an intervention will be immediately made with you and your family. The doctor will discharge you, proceed with an intervention, or consult with you about an open heart surgery.
After the Examination
A closure device may be inserted to seal the artery or the Cardiologist may apply pressure to the site for 20-30 minutes. A bio-occlusive dressing will be placed over the site to assist with healing and prevent infection. You will remain in the recovery area for 2-6 hours depending on your procedure. You will be required to lie in bed with your affected limb still for the entire time. You will be able to eat and drink at this time. You must drink lots of fluids to flush the dye from your system. You may be discharged on the day of the procedure unless an intervention was done.