Heart Catheterization Procedure
The heart catheterization procedure or cardiac catheterization procedure, is a medical procedure preformed by your doctor to aid in the diagnosis or treatment of various heart diseases. Although the name sounds a bit intimidating, you as the patient have little to fear or worry about. The procedure is preformed hundreds of times a day all over the United States and the technique gets improved upon almost on a daily basis.
During heart/cardiac catheterization the doctor will insert a needle into one of several different veins with the femoral vein being one used quite often but the arm or neck are possibilities depending on factors the doctor will discuss with you. As you may know there is very little pain associated with the insertion of the needle. Compare it to having a your blood drawn.
Once the needle is inserted a “wire”, called a catheter, is is threaded into the vein and guided to the heart. Upon arriving there a dye may be injected into the heart area which will “illuminate” the arteries and veins around the heart. The dye allows the doctor to check the area via Xray for possible problems such as clogged or flattened arteries or veins which do not allow the blood to flow properly in that area. This procedure is called a Coronary Angiography which in plan language means a study of the heart veins and arteries.
Ultrasound can also be used during heart catheterization to reveal blockages in the heart blood vessels due to plaque build up. The ultrasound waves create a picture with the help of the dye that can reveal the blockages giving the doctor information on which area of the heart to zero in on. Any plaque build up is referred to as coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease.
While the catheter is in the heart area it is also able to take tissue samples of the heart muscle or blood samples in the area. The catheter can also do minor surgery and or a procedure called cardiac ablation, which aids in correcting heart beat rhythm problems such as atrial flutter or atrial fibrillation.
Many of the people who have the minor surgery are able to do it as an outpatient type surgery, going home a few hours after the treatment. Most remark that pain is almost nonexistent during the procedure and report minor soreness in the area where the catheter is inserted as the main source of pain. Side effects to the heart catheterization procedure are minimal and recovery is usually quick depending on your personal health situation.