Before coming in

  • Please do not eat or drink after midnight for morning procedures. A clear liquid breakfast only is allowed for procedures scheduled after 12 noon.
  • You cannot drive yourself home after the procedure. Please make certain that a responsible person is available to drive you home.
  • If your cardiac catheterization is being done in one of our Outpatient Cardiovascular Centers, please bring only one person with you on the day of your procedure as our waiting areas are small. Arrange for a responsible adult to help you at home for at least 24 hours following your procedure.
  • Bring all your medications with you on the day of your procedure. The doctor or nurse will verify the medications you are taking, and you might be asked to take your medications while at the catheterization lab.
  • You may take all of your medications at the regular time EXCEPT for blood thinners (coumadin) and diabetic medication (metformin). If you are a diabetic, you will be asked to take a reduced dose, usually half, of what you normally take in the morning. Please check with your physician. If you are on metformin, please hold the dose the morning of the procedure.
  • Please wear comfortable clothing and leave all jewelry and money at home. You may wear eyeglasses, hearing aids and dentures.

On the day of your procedure

Go directly to the location where your cardiac catheterization is scheduled. At the designated time, you will be asked to change into a gown. The typical prep includes a complete nursing assessment with questions about your medical history and allergies. Cath lab staff will start an IV infusion and shave and prep both groin areas.

After your prep is complete, the catheterization lab staff will transport you to the lab for the procedure. You will be transferred to an x-ray table. The room will feel cool since the temperature is kept low for the equipment.

Once you are on the table, you will be covered with warm blankets. You may be given medication to help you relax. You will be awake but may feel sleepy during the procedure. A cardiac catheterization takes about one hour.

During the cardiac catheterization

Once you are on the x-ray table, electrodes will be applied to your chest to monitor your heart during the procedure. The insertion site (groin area) will be cleansed with an antiseptic to help prevent infection. You will then be covered with sterile sheets and asked to keep your arms at your sides. The physician will numb the area in your groin, insert a plastic tube (catheter) in a blood vessel in your groin, inject a dye, and take picture of your coronary arteries.

You will feel pressure when the tube is inserted, but not pain. If you experience any pain, let your physician know. When the dye is injected, you will feel a warm sensation for a few seconds.

After the procedure

When the procedure is finished, you will be taken to the recovery room to have the tube removed from your groin. Pressure will be held at the puncture site for 10-20 minutes to stop any bleeding. A bandage, ice bag and/or sandbag will then be applied to the groin area until you are ready to get out of bed.

You will be in bed for two to four hours. For the first hour, your will remain relatively flat. You will be offered liquid to drink and will receive food before you go home. The staff will frequently monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, pulse on the affected leg, and insertion site. It is important not to move around in bed to prevent the puncture site from re-bleeding. Once the recovery period is completed and you are stable, the staff will begin helping you get up to walk around. You and your family member/guest will be given discharge instructions regarding care and medications.

Cardiac catheterization results

Your physician will give you preliminary findings while you are still in the catheterization lab and will speak to your family member/guest about findings, recommendations and plans when the procedure is over.

Follow-up visit

A follow-up visit should have been scheduled for 1 to 3 weeks following your catheterization procedure. Please contact the office if you do not know the date and time for this appointment.

Cardiac catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure to examine how well your heart is functioning. A catheter (a thin tube made from medical grade materials) is introduced into a large blood vessel (an artery or vein) in your groin, neck, or arm and threaded to your heart.

Once the catheter is inserted, a contrast dye is injected via the catheter so that x-ray videos can be made of your valves, coronary arteries, and heart chambers. Reviewing the x-ray videos can help your doctor determine your risk for a variety of conditions, as well as health of your heart muscle function.

Related conditions

  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Heart Valve Disease
  • Disease of the Aorta

Potential risks

Cardiac catheterization is usually safe. A small number of patients encounter issues, such as bruising at the catheter’s insertion site. At times, people may have bad reactions (nausea, itchiness, hives) to the contrast dye.