Cardiac Catheterization

You may have had angina, dizziness, or other symptoms of heart trouble. To help diagnose your problem, your doctor may suggest having a cardiac catheterization. This common procedure is sometimes also used to treat a heart problem.

Before the Procedure
  • 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.
  • You’ll likely be admitted to the hospital on the day of the procedure.
  • Know that the skin where the catheter will be inserted may be shaved. You may be given medication to relax before the procedure.
During the Procedure
  • You will receive a local anesthetic to prevent pain at the insertion site.
  • The doctor inserts an introducing sheath into a blood vessel in your groin or arm.
  • Through the sheath, a long, thin tube called a catheter is placed inside the artery and guided 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.
After the Procedure
  • You need to remain lying down for 2–12 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.
When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Angina (chest pain).
  • Pain, swelling, redness, bleeding, or drainage at the insertion site.
  • Severe pain, coldness, or a bluish color in the leg or arm that held the catheter.
  • Blood in your urine, black or tarry stools, or any other kind of bleeding.
  • Fever over 101.0°F.


Publication Source: American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America
Online Source: American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America
Date Last Reviewed: 2007-01-15T00:00:00-07:00
Date Last Modified: 2002-07-09T00:00:00-06:00