Information on Heart Catheterization and Stents

A cardiac catheterization is a test used to diagnose coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular conditions. It takes place in the Cath Lab at TMCA.

The Procedure

The procedure begins with IV sedation, after which the patient’s right (or occasionally left) groin is numbed. (On some occasions, the doctor will prepare the wrist instead.) The cardiologist then places a catheter into the femoral (groin) artery, called a sheath. Through the sheath, the doctor threads a series of catheters, which travel up the aorta and to the heart (which do not cause any sensation).

Pressures are measured, and pictures are taken of the coronary arteries, which let the cardiologist know how best to treat the patient. If there is a significant blockage in one of the coronaries (70% or more), the doctor will often fix this with a balloon and stent.

When the procedure is complete, the doctor will come out of the heart with the catheters and will often put a collagen plug over the hole in the femoral artery. When this isn’t possible, pressure is held until there is no more risk of bleeding. The patient will have about 4-6 hours of bed rest, after which s/he can get up and move around. S/He will stay the night if s/he received a stent, for monitoring. Catheterization patients will want to avoid heavy exercise and lifting after the procedure for a few days, to prevent bleeding from the groin.

Preparaing for Cardiac Catheterization

Preparation for a cardiac catherization is to avoid eating or drinking for at least 6 hours before the procedure time, except for some medicines with a sip of water. Some blood thinners need to be stopped ahead of time. You will be given instructions about your specific medications by phone.