|Cardiac Catheterization Questions
Q: “What happens after my appointment is scheduled?”
A: We will call you to confirm your appointment and to discuss your medications and procedure.
Q: “What should I do before I come to the hospital?”
A: Do not eat or drink anything after midnight. (Medications prescribed by your doctor may be taken with sips of water.) Make sure you have someone to drive you home. Leave your valuables at home, but bring your eyeglasses or contacts if you will need them to review important information we may discuss with you before and after your procedure.
Q: “What happens when I come to the Cath Lab?”
A: Enter the Medical Center through the Outpatient entrance and proceed to Registration. After the registration process is complete you will be transported to the pre and post care area by our staff. This is where you will be prepared for the procedure and where you recover afterwards. After you've settled in to your room, you'll be given information about what's about to happen. If you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to ask—we want you to be comfortable. After you've changed into a hospital gown, an IV will be started to introduce fluids and medications. You may be given medication to help you relax during the procedure, and the groin area will be prepared.
Q: “What will happen during the procedure itself?”
A: You may be drowsy from the medication and able to answer questions but should not experience pain. A long, soft catheter is inserted through the groin or wrist and guided toward the heart as the doctor observes the catheter's path on a monitor. A contrast dye will be introduced into your heart through the catheter to improve the clarity of the images. Pictures are captured of your heart from many angles, and you may be asked to cough or hold your breath during the process.
Q: “What happens following the procedure?”
A: Once the catheter is removed, a small dressing will be placed on the groin or wrist. In cases where the groin is used, you will lie flat for approximately three or four hours. It’s important not to sit up, bend the knees, or strain during this time. You may experience slight soreness for a period of time following the procedure. You will be given medication for relief. If you have dizziness, lightheadedness, chest discomfort or nausea, the nurse should be notified. Then, assuming there are no further complications, you will be free to go home.
Q: “What happens next?”
A: Your doctor will give you a report of his/her findings before you go home, along with recommendations. The majority of patients will not need further procedures. Patients may improve through medications, better diet, exercise and/or other lifestyle modifications. However, if a more serious condition exists, your doctor will answer your questions and continue to provide care.
Q: “If I need a stent, can it be done here?”
A: Yes, we can place cardiac stents under the physician’s discretion.
Q: “What is catheter angiography?”
A: Angiography is a minimally invasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. In catheter angiography, a thin plastic tube, called a catheter, is inserted into an artery through a small incision in the skin. Once the catheter is guided to the area being examined, a contrast material is injected through the tube and images are captured using a small dose of X-ray.
Q: “What should I do to prepare?”
A: Ask your doctor any questions you may have about the procedure. Check with your insurance company about preauthorization requirements and arrange to have a friend or family member transport you to and from the Medical Center.
Q: “Will I be awake?”
A: Yes. You will be given medication through an IV tube to help you relax and local anesthetic, but you will not be asleep.
Q: “Where is the test performed?”
A: The procedure will be performed in the Cardiac & Vascular Center located on the first floor of the Medical Center.
Q: “Will I be able to talk?”
A: You will be able to speak, and the nurse and doctors in the room will talk to you.
Q: “How long will it take?”
A: The length of time this procedure takes depends on the complexity of the case.
Q: “What will happen after the procedure?”
A: You will return to your room where you will spend two to six hours in bed with your head elevated about 35 degrees. You will be asked to keep your leg straight, and your nurse will help you if you need to change position. A pressure bandage will be placed over the insertion site, which your nurse will check regularly. Your vital signs will also be monitored and you may have an EKG or blood work done as well. In cases where the wrist is used, your bed rest will be minimal.
Q: “When will I be able to eat?
A: You may have something to eat and drink as soon as you return to your room. You'll receive IV fluids to flush the dye used in the test out of your system, and you'll be given pain medication if you need it.
Q: “Will my activity be restricted?
A: You should not lift anything heavy for 24–48 hours. Try to limit the number of times you go up and down stairs and avoid bending as much as possible for 24 hours. Your nurse will go over your instructions in great detail at the time of discharge and you will be given a copy to take home with you.