Cardiac catheterization is a medical procedure used by a cardiologist or heart specialist to study the human heart and provide the suitable treatment required for a patient. More specifically, a cardiologist utilizes cardiac catheterization to estimate the heart’s function, diagnose cardiovascular conditions, and determine the requirement for additional treatment such as coronary artery bypass graft and interventional procedures.

In this procedure, an extended thin tube known as a ‘catheter’ is injected into an individual vein in the upper neck or thigh and threaded through an individual’s blood vessels until it reaches their heart.

Once the catheter is reached in the correct place, the consultant can utilize it to make a diagnosis by viewing the insight of the chambers and the blood vessels of an individual’s heart using an X-ray machine. Cardiac catheterization is performed in a hospital by a cardiac catheterization specialist and a team of medical professionals.

Why is cardiac catheterization required?

There are numerous reasons for which a consultant might suggest a cardiac catheterization, such as;

  • Identifying an individual’s suspected heart condition.
  • If an individual experiences a heart attack.
  • Identifying the specific indications, such as irregular heartbeat, chest pain, or shortness of breath.
  • Assessing the state of an individual’s heart before the heart transplant or heart surgery.
  • Viewing the thin or jammed blood vessels or other problems related to the heart valves.

Moreover, the health advisor can biopsy an individual’s heart to calculate the blood pressure and its flow. Similarly, the physician might also test the arteries that pass from an individual’s heart to the lungs to diagnose certain medical conditions such as pulmonary hypertension or pulmonary embolism.

Process of cardiac catheterization: The process of cardiac catheterization is performed in a surgery center or hospital. A health care provider or surgeon will perform the procedure along with a team of nurses, medical professionals, doctors, and technicians.

  • The process will start by inserting an intravenous IV tube into the hand or arm of an individual. This IV tube would transport fluid and medicines during and after the cardiac catheterization.
  • The individual would give a medicine known as a sedative to keep him relaxed. Despite that, an individual would be able to respond to the instructions given by the consultant.
  • It can be possible that the physician or the nurse would use a tiny razor to shave off the hair from the site where the catheterization would be injected, such as the arm, upper thigh, or neck.
  • The nurse would apply a general anesthetic to numb the area where the catheterization would be injected.
  • Once the catheterization is injected, the tiny disk known as the electrodes will be placed on an individual’s upper body and joined to an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine, which permits the medical team to examine the activity of an individual’s heart during the procedure.
  • Furthermore, the physician would insert a sheath, often called a hollow, plastic tube. For the accuracy of the sheath, the doctor may utilize a small incision or a needle to place it accurately and can also use an ultrasound to have a better view of the insight. After that, the physician would inject the catheter with the help of the sheath; during this, an individual might experience pressure but not pain as the catheter changes its position.
  • During cardiac catheterization, the health care advisor may ask an individual to cough, take a deep breath, hold the breath, and change their head position to get a clear view of an individual’s arteries and heart.
  • After positioning the catheter, the consultant examines and takes the necessary steps to treat or diagnose the condition.
  • After the completion of the procedure, the health care advisor would remove the sheath and the catheter and may also close the incision site with the help of a clip, suture, or a collagen plug.

To analyze the individual’s heart condition, the physician might perform one of the possible procedures:

  • Heart biopsy: A heart biopsy can enable a consultant to take a sample of heart tissues with the help of a catheter placed on the tip.
  • Arteriogram or coronary angiogram test: A dye is inserted through a coronary angiogram or the arteriogram through a catheter; the consultant may use an X-ray to analyze the dye streaming through the individual’s heart and blood vessels.

Possible treatments that might be performed during the cardiac catheterization;

  • Angioplasty: It can be performed during cardiac catheterization. The physician injects a small inflatable balloon into an individual’s artery. Then the balloon is extended to widen the clogged or narrowed artery.
  • Ablation: Ablation is performed to fix the irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia.

Potential benefits of cardiac catheterization

  • With the help of cardiac catheterization, the health care advisor would be able to treat and diagnose the heart and blood vessels problem that may cause a heart attack or stroke.
  • Based on accurate information of cardiac catheterization, the consultant would then be able to make a plan to diagnose and treat the illness.

Risk Factors

Cardiac catheterization is considered a low-risk procedure. However, it is essential to discuss the condition of an individual before any medical procedure takes place.

  • An individual with severe kidney and heart disease is relatively at higher risk.
  • The issues related to catheterization may include bleeding or bruising at the place where the catheter is injected.
  • Some individuals can have an allergic reaction caused by the dye used to view the insight of the arteries or the blood vessels, so it is always recommended to discuss all the health issues before such procedures occur.
  • The patient can also encounter fast or abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Patients can also experience a heart attack, stroke, infection, or damage to the heart tissues, valves, or blood vessels.

Cardiac catheterization preparation: Before the procedure begins, the health care provider will discuss the medical history, health condition, medical (using currently), and all the allergies an individual might have.

  • The physician might advise performing specific blood tests related to the patient’s condition:
  • EKG: An electrocardiogram, known as EGG or EKG, is used to find the readings of the heart’s electrical activity on graph paper.
  • Chest X-ray: A chest radiograph called a chest X-ray or chest film is a projection radiograph to analyze the issues present in the chest.
  • Cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): It is also known as cardiovascular MRI, a magnetic resonance imaging technology utilized for the non-invasive assessment of the function and hierarchy of the cardiovascular system.
  • Cardiac CT (computed tomography): Coronary CT angiography is computed tomographic angiography designed to analyze the coronary arteries of the heart.
  • Coronary angiogram: Coronary catheterization is a small interfering process to reach the heart’s coronary circulation and blood-filled chambers employing a catheter. It is conducted for diagnostic and interventional purposes as this is one of the numerous cardiology diagnostic tests and procedures.
  • Cardiovascular test: An exam is also known as a cardiovascular workout test, which shows how the heart works while performing physical activity.

The consultant would inform the patient about the diet and medicines before the procedure.