Cardiac Catheterizations

A cardiac catheterization provides your doctor with information regarding the location and size of your coronary arteries, any blockages in your coronary arteries, the health of your heart muscle and valves, the presence of any aneurysms and whether or not blood flow in your heart is normal. Based on this information, your doctor can recommend a plan of care specifically for you.

Cardiac catheterizations can be performed at SGMC several ways:

  • Traditional caths are routed through the femoral artery in the groin.

  • Newer pathways use the right or left radial artery in the patient’s wrist (called transradial caths) to access the heart.

For the procedure, a special catheter will be inserted either into your groin or arm inserted through a blood vessel into your heart. Because blood vessels do not have nerves, you should experience no discomfort while the catheter is being inserted.

  • Once the catheter is in place, dye will be injected into the arteries and chambers of your heart.

  • An X-ray machine will take pictures of your heart at many angles. You may be asked to cough, breathe deeply or hold your breath to help the doctor get better pictures. The procedure usually takes 30-60 minutes.

It is unusual to experience any pain during the procedure. If you do, report it to your doctor immediately.  After the procedure, the catheter will be withdrawn and pressure may be applied to the withdrawal site for about 20 minutes following a groin stick. If the cath was performed through the wrist, a band will be used to apply pressure.  Some patients treated with wrist (transradial) access are able to sit up and walk around almost immediately after the procedure, depending on their level of sedation.