Cardiac Cath Lab
|Your Cardiac Catheterization
The Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory (Cath Lab) at Southeastern Med is a state-of-the-art heart facility that brings quality heart health care to Southeast Ohio. Our highly professional staff will ensure an excellent healthcare experience and our advanced cardiac imaging technology will provide the most detailed diagnostic heart information currently available. Our easily accessible facilities relieve the fear of endless searches for waiting and treatment rooms. Quality, accessible, personal and friendly healthcare is what you will find at Southeastern Med’s Cardiac Cath Lab.
|About My Heart Cath
We also realize that if you are being treated for coronary heart disease, you may have questions about the procedure and level of care you will receive at Southeastern Med. We have developed this website to help address the most asked questions regarding these issues.
This information is provided to help you understand your cardiac catheterization. It explains what will happen before, during, and after the test, please ask your nurse, doctor, or call the Cath Lab at 439-8605.
|How Does the Heart Function?
The heart is a muscle which pumps blood to all parts of your body. It is divided into a left and right side with each side having a different function in the heart’s pumping action.
The right side of the heart receives blood that returns from the body and pumps it into the lungs. In the lungs, the blood picks up a supply of oxygen and releases carbon dioxide, which is breathed out as a waste product. The left side of the heart receives the oxygen-rich blood from the lungs. Blood is then pumped into the aorta, or main artery of the heart, to smaller arteries which carry it to the body.
The heart is a muscle which needs its own supply of oxygen and nutrients. Blood is supplied to the heart through the coronary arteries. These arteries surround the heart and reach into the heart muscle so everything is supplied with blood. There are three main coronary arteries. The left coronary artery divides into two branches and carries to the front of the left heart and back of the heart. The right coronary artery supplies blood to the right heart and parts of the back of the heart.
|What is a Cardiac Catheterization?
A cardiac catheterization allows the doctor to examine the chambers, valves, and arteries of the heart. The test is done in a special room called the catheterization laboratory (cath lab). Either the right side or left side of the heart or both sides can be examined.
A hollow needle is put into vein for a right heart cath or an artery in the arm or groin for a left heart cath. A flexible wire is threaded through the hollow needle into the vessel. The catheter is then put over the wire in the blood vessel.
The doctor watches the catheter move toward the heart on a X-ray machine known as a fluoroscope. When the catheter is in proper position, dye is put through the opening of the catheter. Dye lets the doctor see the coronary arteries and the chambers of the heart. Blood samples are taken and pressures are measured during the heart cath.
Another term which may be used to described a cardiac catheterization is heart catheterization. Coronary angiogram or coronary arteriography are the terms used to describe the X-ray pictures taken of dye injected into the coronary arteries during a left heart catheterization.
What Does the Doctor Learn from the Catheterization?
A cardiac catheterization is the most accurate way to see if you have coronary artery disease, and if so, how much. Coronary artery disease is the build-up of fats and cholesterol in the arteries of the heart. The doctor looks for arteries that have become narrowed or blocked.
Blockage prevents blood from flowing freely through the coronary arteries. When this occurs, the heart muscle does not get oxygen and nourishment. Chest pain, also known as angina, may result. If there is blockage of the coronary arteries, the doctor may recommend bypass surgery, angioplasty (balloon procedure), or medications.
The cardiac catheterization also shows whether the valves and heart muscles are working properly. If the valves are not working, medications, surgery, or a balloon procedure may be needed to fix the problem.
| What Will I See, Feel, and Hear During the Catheterization?
The cath lab has the same temperature and environment as an operating room. The table on which you will lay is firm, narrow and padded. You will be covered with sterile sheets. The lighting is dim to help the doctor see the pictures of the heart on the screen. There are several large machines in the room which help collect information about your heart. The doctors, nurses, and technicians will wear surgical masks.
You will be awake during the cath, but a sedative will be given through the IV line to help you relax. Electrocardiography (EKG) leads are attached to your chest so your heart rate and rhythm can be monitored during the test.
Before the catheter is put in, a RN or X-ray tech will scrub the area (arm or groin). The area is then numbed with a local anesthetic. You may feel pressure as the catheter is put into the vessel. As the catheter passes into the heart chambers, you may feel skipped beats or fluttering in your chest. You may mention this to the doctor, but do not be alarmed. It is a common occurrence.
During the catheterization, dye is injected through the catheter, and X-ray pictures are taken to view the heart and coronary arteries. As the dye is injected, you will feel a warm, flushed, tingling sensation and possibly some nausea. These symptoms may last 20-30 seconds and are normal reaction. A slight headache that does not last long may also occur. During the test, you may be asked to cough or to take a deep breath and hold it. This helps clear the dye from the arteries and moves your diaphragm away from the heart. Tell the doctor if you have chest pains, nausea, shortness of breath, or any other discomfort during the test.
You may hear the staff talking and calling out technical terms and numbers. This is part of the procedure and you should not be concerned. The doctor will talk to you if your help is needed. You may be able to see parts of the test on the television monitor.
After the information is taken and the procedure completed, the catheter is removed. Pressure is applied to the area where the catheter was to stop any bleeding. A clamp is placed on this area for 30-40 minutes.
The heart cath usually lasts less than one hour. You will be gone, however, from your room for several hours. For a short time after the heart cath your will be in a recovery area.
|What Happens After the Catheterization?
After your return to your room, the nurse will check your blood pressure, heart rate, and rhythm often during the next six hours. The nurse will also check where the catheter was put for any signs of bleeding. The pulses in your arms, legs and feet will also be checked. If the groin was used, stay in bed with your leg straight for several hours. The head of the bed may be up slightly. Wiggle your toes and flex your ankles often, but do not bend your leg. After several hours you may get out of bed with help from your nurse. If your arm was used, keep it straight for at least one hour.
You may start your regular diet anytime after the catheterization. Drink large amount of fluid to help clear the dye from your body.
If you have discomfort where the catheter was put, ask your nurse for pain medicine. Tell your nurse immediately if you notice any swelling or bleeding in this area or if you feel pain, numbness, or tingling in your arm or leg. Your family may visit with you after you are settled back in your room.
After you go home, drink plenty of fluids for the first 24 hours. The dressing on your groin may be removed after 24 hours. You may shower after the dressing has been removed.
What Are the Risks With a Cardiac Catheterization?
When you sign the written consent for, for the cardiac catheterization, the doctor will talk about possible, though rare, complications that may occur in less than one in 1,000 catheterizations done. Minor problems such as feeling faint, bleeding, infection, chills, or shakes, or allergic reaction may occur. Remember that the staff of the cath lab is well trained to handle any situation and to prevent problems before they can occur.
When Will I Learn the Result of My Heart Cath?
Your doctor will visit you after the catheterization to explain the results of your test. You may find the diagrams in the handout helpful during this explanation.