Related Services
Nuclear Medicine
Coronary Computed Tomography Angiogram (Coronary CTA)
Cardiac Catheterisation
Coronary Angiography
Percutaneous Coronary Interventions (P.C.I)
with various stents
Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS)
Cardio Pulmonary Support System
Stem Cell Therapy
Pacemaker Implant
CT Coronary Angiogram and Calcium Score
Radio Isotope Perfusion Stress Test
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
Understanding Cardiac Catheterization (coronary angiogram)


An invasive imaging procedure that involves inserting a catheter into a blood vessel in the arm or leg, and guiding it to your heart with the aid of a special x-ray machine. Contrast dye is injected through the catheter so that x-ray movies of your valves, coronary arteries and heart chambers are taken.

Your doctor uses cardiac catheterization to:

evaluate or confirm the presence of heart disease
(such as coronary artery disease)

evaluate heart muscle function

determine the need for further treatment
(angioplasty or bypass surgery)

To prepare:

Prior to your procedure, tests may be scheduled such as electrocardiogram (ECG),
and chest x-ray.

Although some patients are hospitalized (inpatients) when they undergo catheterization,
it is most commonly done as an outpatient procedure.

What to expect:

A nurse will start an intravenous (IV) line in your arm
so that medications and fluids can be administered
during the procedure.

The cardiac catheterization room is cool and dimly lit.
The air must be kept cool to prevent damage to the x-ray
machinery that is used during the procedure. You will be
offered warm blankets to make you more comfortable.

You will lie on a special table. If you look above,
you will see a large camera and several TV monitors.
You can watch your cardiac catheterization on the monitors.

The nurse will clean your skin at the site where the catheter (narrow plastic tube) will be
inserted (arm or groin). The catheter insertion site may be shaved.

Sterile drapes are used to cover the site and help prevent infection. It is important that you
keep your arms and hands down at your sides, under the sterile drapes.

Electrodes (small, flat, sticky patches) will be placed on your chest. The electrodes are
attached to an electrocardiograph monitor (ECG), which monitors your heart rate
and rhythm.

You will be given a mild sedative to relax you, but you will be awake and conscious
during the entire procedure.

In some cases, a urinary catheter may be needed during the procedure.

The doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb the site. A plastic introducer sheath
(a short, hollow tube through which the catheter is placed) is inserted in a blood vessel in
your arm or groin. A catheter will be inserted through the sheath and threaded to the arteries
of your heart. You may feel pressure as the introducer sheath or catheter is inserted, but you
hould not feel pain. Tell the nurse or doctor if you feel any pain.

When the catheter is in place, the lights will be dimmed and a small amount of contrast
material will be injected through the catheters into your arteries and heart chambers.
The contrast material outlines the vessels, valves and chambers.

When the contrast material is injected into your heart, you may feel hot or flushed for
several seconds. This is normal and will go away in a few seconds.

Please tell the doctor or nurses if you feel:

an allergic reaction (itching, tightness in the throat)


chest discomfort

any other symptoms

The x-ray camera will be used to take photographs of the arteries and heart chambers.
You will be asked to hold your breath while the x-rays are taken. When all the photos
have been taken, the catheter will be removed and the lights will be turned on.

You may have an interventional procedure combined with your cardiac catheterization.

After the procedure:

The catheters and sheath are removed.

  If the catheter was inserted at the groin: The incision will be closed with applied pressure, suture device or a "plug." A "plug" is a material which works with your body's natural healing processes to form a clot in the artery. You will need to lie flat and keep the leg straight for two to six hours to prevent bleeding (less time if a plug was used). Your head cannot be raised more than 30 degrees (2 pillows high). Do not try to sit or stand.

  A sterile dressing will be placed on the groin area to protect it from infection. The nurse will check your bandage regularly, but call your nurse if you think you are bleeding (have a wet, warm sensation) or if your toes begin to tingle or feel numb.

You will need to drink plenty of liquids to clear the contrast material from your body.
You may feel the need to urinate more frequently. This is normal. If you are on bedrest,
you will need to use a bedpan or urinal.

Your doctor will tell you if you are able to return home or will need to stay overnight.
In either case, you will be monitored for several hours after the procedure.

Treatment, including medications, diet and future procedures, will be discussed with you
prior to going home. Care of the wound site, activity and follow-up care will also be discussed.

The cardiac catheterization procedure only takes about 30 minutes, but plan to spend about 5 to 9 hours from the preparation through the recovery time.
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