Procedure and Recovery of Cardiac Catheterization

Submitted on March 27, 2012

The cardiac catheterization procedure is a thirty minute test done with the help of a catheter and a special x-ray machine to examine the functioning of the heart. The cardiac catheterization stent or catheter is a thin flexible tube which is inserted from the right or left side of the heart. The cardiac catheterization procedure involves the insertion of an intravenous line in one of the blood vessels in the neck, arm or groin area after administering local anesthesia. The catheter is then inserted through the intravenous line and into the blood vessel (artery or vein). The catheter along with a special x-ray machine is guided to the heart to record the functioning of the heart. This procedure helps provide vital information pertaining to:

  • Pressure and blood flow in the large arteries around the heart
  • Pressure and blood flow in the hearts chambers
  • The oxygen levels in different parts of the heart
  • Pumping ability of different heart muscles
  • Existence of heart disorders or diseases such as coronary artery disease, disease of the aorta or heart valve diseases.
  • Need for further treatment after a bypass surgery or angioplasty

Cardiac Catheterization Coronary Angiography

The catheter is also used to inject dye into the coronary arteries. This procedure is known as cardiac catheterization coronary angiography, angiogram cardiac catheterization or coronary arteriography. A procedure called coronary angioplasty or cardiac catheterization angioplasty employs the use of catheters with a balloon tip. Cardiac catheterization is also done for infants to understand complications related to congenital defects.


Blood tests, chest x-ray and electrocardiogram are usually performed a couple of weeks before a cardiac catheterization procedure is likely to take place. Cardiac catheterization risks are rare but may include certain conditions such as abnormal heart rhythms, infection, bleeding, blood clots, stroke, heart attack, allergic reaction to the dye, passage of air through the blood vessels and perforation of blood vessels. Cardiac catheterization pain and cardiac catheterization complications are rare, but it could also be fatal in extreme cases. Though the test is done within 30 minutes the preparation and recovery may require several hours. Therefore, it is advisable to consider a days time for a cardiac catheterization procedure.


Cardiac catheterization recovery is the post test observation period after the catheterization procedure is completed. The incisions made either on the arm or groin is sealed with stitches. This will be most likely followed by a sterile dressing to prevent the onset of an infection. Relaxing the hands and legs in sleeping position is a must after the procedure, in order to prevent bleeding. On observing normal conditions the doctor is most likely to discuss the course of further treatment, dietary changes and medications before leaving the medical center.