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Cardiac Catheterization or Angiography

Cardiac catheterization (sometimes called angiography) shows how blood flows through the heart and surrounding blood vessels. This provides the cardiologist with information about the structure and working condition of the heart. During the catheterization, your cardiologist may perform treatments to correct problems in your heart.

What to expect the evening before your procedure
Your physician’s office will provide you with instructions regarding preparing for the procedure, as well as a map and directions to the hospital’s heart/vascular waiting room. Your hospital registration process will be completed there. A nurse will contact you the day before your procedure to answer any questions or concerns you may have, how to get to the hospital or where to park. Please give your physician’s office the best phone number to reach you. We are not able to leave a message on an answering machine due to privacy rules. Please contact your physician prior to your procedure if you have any concerns.

What to expect during your procedure

  • Before catheterization, you will be given medication that may make you drowsy.
  • You will be taken into a special room called the cardiac catheterization lab. Family and guests will be asked to wait in the designated waiting area during the procedure, and staff will provide regular updates.
  • The catheterization is done through a vein or artery in the leg or wrist.
  • The cardiologist uses a special medicine to numb the catheter insertion area.
  • A thin tube called a sheath will then be placed through the skin into a large vessel in the leg or arm.
  • The cardiologist will gently guide the catheter through the vessel to the heart.
  • Once in the heart, the cardiologist will inject a colorless fluid (contrast dye) through the catheter and take many pictures of the heart with an X-ray machine called a fluoroscope.
  • You will receive medication through the entire procedure to relieve any pain or discomfort. This medicine may cause drowsiness.

What to expect after your procedure

  • Once the procedure is complete, the cardiologist will remove the catheter and sheath.
  • Staff will put pressure on the insertion site to stop any bleeding, and a large bandage will be placed over the insertion site.
  • You will awaken gradually and be taken to an area to rest and recover.

Your cardiologist will discuss results of the test with you. The cardiologist also will discuss proper home care after catheterization. These instructions will let you know when you can eat and when it is safe to remove the bandage.

Returning home
If you or a loved one notices any of the following after you return home, call your cardiologist.

  • Bleeding from the bandage or insertion site
  • Leg/arm is cold or blue in color
  • Fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Severe pain in the groin, leg or arm
  • Redness or drainage from the incision

If you have any questions about your care after you return home, call your physician’s office.

This test or treatment is offered at these facilities:

To find a physician visit our Find a Doc or call (502) 629-1234 for a physician referral.

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