Cardiac catheterization can be performed on an inpatient or outpatient basis, meaning you could either stay overnight at the hospital after the surgery or be released to go home the same day as your procedure. You will be asked to not eat or drink anything for at least eight hours before cardiac catheterization. Be sure to arrange a driver to take you home following the surgery, because you will not be able to drive.
On the day of cardiac catheterization, at your scheduled time, you will be taken to a pre-procedure room, where you will be set up with an IV, and EKG patches will be applied to your body to monitor your heart activity during the procedure. Also make sure to bring a list of your current medications, including prescriptions and any over-the-counter medications, supplements, or herbal remedies you are taking.
As you enter the cath lab, which is where the procedure is performed, you will be moved to the x-ray table, where you will lie on your back. An automatic blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm. To check oxygen levels in your blood, a pulse oximeter, which is a measuring device, will be taped to your finger. From the x-ray table, you will see several heart monitors and an x-ray screen that resembles a TV screen.
To begin the cardiac catheterization, your doctor first chooses an artery for the catheter entry site (usually the arm or leg). Once the entry site is located, a catheter is inserted and carefully guided through the aorta and to the coronary arteries. Once the catheter reaches the coronary arteries, a special dye is injected into them; when the dye shows up on the x-ray screen, your doctor will be able to see any blockages that may be present. After this, the catheter will be redirected to your left ventricle, where a large amount of dye is injected; this is to test how your ventricle is contracting and if your valves are functioning properly.