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Cardiac Catheterization


Cardiac catheterization is a common procedure used to help diagnose and treat a variety of heart conditions.

Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento provides exceptional diagnostics for our heart and vascular patients. Our physicians use the latest technology to ensure an accurate diagnosis so we can provide you with the best course of treatment available.

What is Cardiac Catheterization?

Doctors use cardiac catheterization to look for plaque build-up inside the arteries using a catheter (thin, narrow tube inserted into the body) and X-rays.

There are many diagnostic tests and even some treatments that are performed using cardiac catheterization. They include:

What to Expect During Cardiac Catheterization

You will likely be admitted to the hospital on the day of the procedure. Here's what to expect:

  • You will receive a local anesthetic to prevent pain at the insertion site
  • The doctor inserts a small tube called a sheath into the opening of a blood vessel in your groin or arm. The sheath helps your doctor guide in the catheter
  • Through the sheath, your doctor inserts a long, thin tube called a catheter into the artery and guides it toward your heart
  • To perform different tests or check other parts of the heart, the doctor inserts a new catheter or moves the catheter or X-ray machine
  • For some tests, a contrast dye is injected through the catheter to make X-ray images more clear

After the test:

  • You need to remain lying down for 2 to 12 hours
  • If the insertion site was in your groin, you may need to lie down with your leg still for several hours
  • A nurse will check your blood pressure and the insertion site
  • You may be asked to drink fluid to help flush the contrast liquid out of your system
  • Have someone drive you home from the hospital
  • It's normal to find a small bruise or lump at the insertion site. These common side effects should disappear within a few weeks

Preparing for Cardiac Catheterization

Before coming in for a cardiac catheterization, arrange for a family member or friend to drive you home. Also be sure you:

  • Tell your doctor what medicines you take and about any allergies you have
  • Don't eat or drink anything after midnight, the night before the procedure