The Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Southeastern Med is a modern heart facility that brings quality heart care to Guernsey County. Our staff of professionals ensures an excellent experience, and our advanced imaging technology provides the most detailed diagnostic heart information available.

We understand that you may have questions about coronary heart disease and treatment. The following information will help you learn more about cardiac catheterization.

Cardiac Catheterization

The heart is the most important muscle you have. It pumps blood to every part of your body. It's divided into a left and right side, with each side playing a different role in the heart's main function.

Also known as heart catheterization, cardiac catheterization is a test that allows your doctor to examine the chambers, valves and arteries of your heart. This test is conducted in a special room called the catheterization laboratory (cath lab). Using dye to highlight your veins and arteries, your doctor can view your heart in action with a type of X-ray machine called a fluoroscope. The X-rays taken are sometimes referred to as a “Coronary Angiogram” or “Coronary Ateriography.”

What's the Benefit?

A cardiac catheterization is the most accurate way to detect and measure coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease results from the build-up of fats and cholesterol in the arteries of the heart. Your doctor uses the procedure to find arteries that have become narrow or blocked. Blockage constricts blood flow and prevents the heart muscle from receiving the oxygen and nourishment it needs to function normally, which makes finding these problems crucial to improving your health.

What is the Procedure Like?

The cardiac cath lab has the same temperature and environment as an operating room and, although you will be awake during the procedure, you'll be given a sedative to help you relax.

You may feel a little pressure as the catheter is inserted into the blood vessel and, as the catheter passes into the heart chambers, you may experience skipped beats or fluttering in your chest, but there's no cause for alarm as these sensations are quite common. When dye is injected through the catheter, X-ray images of your heart and coronary arteries are taken. After the appropriate information is gathered, the procedure is completed and the catheter is removed.

The heart cath usually lasts less than an hour, but you will be out of your room for several hours and in a recovery area for a short time after the procedure.

After the Catheterization

When you return to your room, we'll check your blood pressure, pulse, heart rate and rhythm often during the next six hours and observe the catheter site for any signs of bleeding.

You may resume your regular diet once the cardiac catheterization is complete, but you may want to take in extra fluids to help clear the dye from your body. If you have any discomfort where the catheter was inserted, please ask your care staff for pain medication and immediately notify them of any swelling, bleeding, pain, numbness or tingling in your arm or leg. After you've settled back into your room, your family will be allowed to visit while you await the results from the cardiac cath lab.

When you go home, drink plenty of fluids for a full day. The dressing on your groin can be removed after 24 hours and you may shower only after the dressing has been removed.

Are There Any Risks?

When you sign your consent for the cardiac catheterization, your physician will discuss possible, though rare, complications that occur in fewer than one in 1,000 catheterizations.

Minor issues, such as feeling faint, bleeding, infection, the chills, shaking or an allergic reaction may occur. Please remember that the staff of our cath lab is trained to handle any situation.

What Will I Learn From My Catheterization?

Your doctor will visit you after your catheterization and explain the results to you. At that point, you will discuss possible treatment options and decide how to move forward.