Cardiac Catheterization Lab
What is Cardiac Catheterization?
Cardiac catheterization is a diagnostic procedure used to examine the blood vessels of your heart. It allows the cardiologist to assess the pumping function of your heart and examine your coronary arteries. The procedure is done in a catheterization laboratory or “cath lab,” and is not an operation. In fact, you will be awake during the procedure and able to communicate with the lab.
Following a local anesthetic, a very small incision is made in the skin of either your arm or leg in order to insert a thin, flexible, plastic tube called a catheter into an artery. The catheter is smaller in diameter than the artery into which it is inserted.
Once inserted, the catheter is directed through larger blood vessels toward the heart. The doctor watches the progress of the catheter as it moves through your arteries to your heart with the aid of special x-ray equipment called a fluoroscope. You will probably be unaware of the catheter’s movement and can watch the procedure on the fluoroscope monitor, which resembles a television screen.
When the catheter is in place in the heart, a non-toxic contrast medium, commonly called “dye,” is injected through the catheter. As the dye mixes with your blood, it makes the entire coronary arterial system visible to the x-ray cameras. The coronary arteries must be filmed from different angles. This is accomplished by moving or rotating the camera around you while you remain stationary on the examination table. The film is developed and becomes a permanent record which can be reviewed as often as necessary by the physician.
Cardiac catheterization provides very accurate and detailed information about the function of the heart. Cardiac catheterization is the only accurate method for displaying the parts of the coronary arteries that have been narrowed or occluded by atherosclerosis. The catheterization process may also be used to diagnose an aneurysm, a birth defect of the heart or a problem with a valve. By combining the information obtained during the catheterization with information from other diagnostic tests (such as the EKG, chest x-ray, treadmill, cardiac scan and echocardiogram), the doctor is able to accurately diagnose the problem and can choose the most effective treatment.
Pre-Admission and Testing
At least 24 hours before your heart cath, you will need to pre-register by calling the EASTAR Health System Admitting Office at 918-682-5501, extension 1248, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. When your call, please have your insurance company name and policy number, your Medicare number if applicable, and your social security number. If you are covered under the policy of another family member, you will need to have his or her social security number as well.
Your doctor may order several tests which you will need to have at the hospital or in your doctor’s office, before the day of your heart cath. These may include x-ray, lab tests, an EKG and others. If you come to EASTAR Health Services for these tests, you should park in Outpatient Parking Lot, located off 36th Street, just south of West Okmulgee and check in at the Admitting Office. You may then be directed to the ACCESS Department for centralized testing, or directly to the hospital department where the tests will be performed.
Please tell your doctor if you:
- are pregnant
- cannot be flat on your back for extended periods of time
- have glaucoma
- have dentures or a hearing aid
- are diabetic, and if so, take insulin
- have been told of prostrate disease or have difficulty urinating
- have been taking “blood thinners,” such as coumadin or warafin, have a history of excessive bleeding
- are taking aspirin or aspiring-containing products
- are presently being treating for an infection in any part of the body
- are allergic to any medications, x-ray dye or foods
The Night Before Your Cath
Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your heart cath, unless otherwise instructed by your physician. This includes food, water, coffee, juice, soft drinks, gum, tobacco, candy, mints, etc. The exception to this rule is your medications. Please continue to take your cardiac medication as normal and check with your regular physician regarding diabetic and other medications. It is very important for your safety and well-being that your stomach is empty. If you do not follow this advice, your catheterization will be delayed or canceled. If you become ill or have an elevated temperature, you should notify your doctor immediately. It may be necessary to postpone your surgery until you are feeling better.
The Day of Your Heart Cath
In order to facilitate your admission, you should arrive at the hospital two hours prior to your scheduled catheterization time. If you cannot keep your scheduled appointment or if you are going to be late notify the cardiac cath nurse at 918-684-2521.
When your arrive at the hospital, you should park in the Visitor’s Parking Lot off Okmulgee Street, enter through the hospital’s main entrance and check in at the Admitting Office. The registration clerk will notify the cath lab of your arrival and will assist you in making financial arrangements. EASTAR Health System accepts insurance, Visa, Mastercard, cash, or check.
- Arrive two hours prior to your scheduled catheterization time
- Bring a case for your glasses, contact lenses or dentures
- Bring reading or needlework
- Bring a list of allergies you have, especially to food or medications.
- Wear make-up, hair pins or nail polish
- Bring jewelry or other valuables to the hospital.
You will be admitted to Radiology Prep and Recovery before and after the procedure until discharge. If you receive a angioplasty and/or stent placement, then you will be kept overnight for approximately 24 hours in either PCU or ICU depending on physician orders.
During Your Heart Cath
After being pre-medicated in order to help you relax, you will be taken to the cath lab on a loveable bed or stretcher. After you arrive at the cath lab, you will be draped with sterile sheets. The staff will be wearing sterile gowns and gloves. The area where the catheter will be inserted is cleansed thoroughly and a local anesthetic injected into the skin with a tiny needle. A small incision is made in the skin and a needle is used to puncture the blood vessel into which the catheter will be inserted.
While you are in the cath lab, your family will wait in the Radiology waiting room, where they may enjoy the comfort of our complimentary TV’s and Coffee that will be provided.
Going Home After Your Heart Cath
Before you are discharged, you will be given instructions for your care at home, and any prescriptions that are necessary. You must be accompanied by a responsible adult who can drive you home. You will not be permitted to leave alone and should not plan to drive or operate machinery for at least 24 hours. Please refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages following you procedures. It is also important that you drink plenty of fluids for the next 24 hours.
If you have questions or concerns after your return home, feel free to call the cardiac cath nurse at 918-684-2521, or call your doctor.
We look forward to serving you and making your cardiac catheterization at EASTAR Health Services as pleasant as possible.