Cardiac Catheterization

A cardiac catheterization, sometimes referred to as a cardiac angiogram, is a special x-ray study of the heart. At Shore Medical Center this procedure is performed on low-risk patients and is used by the cardiologist to learn more about your heart.

Cardiac catheterization refers to a long thin tube (catheter) being inserted into an artery in your leg or arm and guided through a blood vessel into your heart. X-ray contrast (dye) is passed through the tube into the heart allowing the cardiologist to see the heart chambers, valves and coronary arteries on a monitor in the room during the procedure. The procedure usually lasts 30-45 minutes.

Before the Cardiac Catheterization

Upon scheduling the procedure you will be instructed to have no food 12 hours prior. You will be instructed whether you are to take any of your regular medications. You will be asked to sign a consent form. The staff will ask if you are allergic to iodine or seafood. The staff will shave the area (s) to be used for the procedure (leg or arm). Someone will mark the pulses on your feet or wrist. An intravenous (I.V.) will be inserted into your arm. You will be instructed to use the restroom immediately prior to the procedure.

During the Procedure

The special x-ray table enables the doctor and the staff to see the catheter as it is guided into the heart. They will move the table from side to side, forward and backward. The room temperature is cool due to the computerized equipment. If you are cold please request a blanket. You will receive medication to relax you, however, you must be awake to follow instructions such as to cough, take a deep breath and hold your breath as necessary. You need to stay as still as possible so the pictures of your heart are clear.

After the Procedure

The staff will check your blood pressure, pulse and the site (leg or arm) frequently. You will be instructed to keep your arm or leg straight and you must remain in bed for several hours. About an hour after the procedure you will be allowed to drink fluids and eat. The doctor will discuss the results with you. You will need someone to drive you home approximately five hours after the procedure.