Cardiac catheterization is performed in a hospital setting. A thin, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted at the arm, groin or neck area and threaded through blood vessels into the heart. The insertion area is numbed, and the patient is given medication to help relax. Catheterization is used to: check blood flow and blood pressure in the chambers of the heart; check the pumping action of the heart; determine if a congenital heart defect is present and how severe it is; check blood flow through the heart after surgery, and assess the functionality of the patient’s heart valves. The procedure may include a coronary angiogram, which checks the coronary arteries. If the patient has coronary artery disease, this test helps determine if you need surgery or another type of procedure, such as angioplasty with stenting.
Preparing for Catheterization: Arrange for someone to take you home after the test. You may or may not have to stay in the hospital overnight. Do not eat or drink (except for a small amount of water) for 6 to 12 hours before the test. Be sure to remove all jewelry before the test. Take your medicines as directed by your doctor. You'll be asked to empty your bladder completely just before the test. Be sure to tell your doctor about: any allergies to iodine dye (which is used in the contrast material) or any other substance that contains iodine; allergies to other things that might be used during the test, such as latex or talc; allergies to any medications; if you have asthma or have ever had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) from any substance, such as venom from a bee sting; if you are pregnant, might be pregnant, or are breastfeeding; if you have any bleeding problems or kidney disease.