Procedure, Complications, Side Effects & Cost of Heart Catheterization Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What is Heart Catheterization?

Heart catheterization is a procedure that is used to diagnose and treat heart conditions. Heart catheterization procedure involves inserting a catheter (a long and narrow tube) into an artery or a vein in your groin, arm or neck. This catheter is then threaded through to the blood vessels in your heart. An iodine based dye is then injected through this catheter and into the blood stream. Due to this dye, x ray fluoroscopy images can then be taken which are much clearer than the ones doctors get from other tests. You will have to do this following the steps given below before the heart catheterization takes place.

  • You will not be permitted to eat or drink anything for at least 8-12 hours before the test.
  • Check with your doctor about taking any medication you are on before the test. You may be allowed to do so with a small amount of water.
  • Inform your doctor about any medication that you may be on prior to the heart catheterization taking place.
  • Do try and relax before and during the test. Nervousness could lead to complications like an irregular heartbeat.

An intravenous line will be inserted into your hand in case you need additional medication during the heart catheterization. The area where the catheter is to be inserted will be shaved and then numbed, prior to the insertion.

Risks and Recovery

Heart catheterization recovery usually takes several hours. You will be taken to a recovering room and once the catheter is removed, you will have to lie flat for one to six hours. This is to allow the artery to heal and to avoid serious bleeding. The few heart catheterization risks are:

  • A stroke
  • A heart attack
  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Allergic reactions to the dye or medication.
  • Infection.
  • Blood clots
  • Kidney damage
  • Tearing the tissue of your artery or heart
  • Damage to the artery where the catheter was inserted
  • Irregular heart rhythms.

Side Effects, Complications and Cost

Some other heart catheterization complications include difficulty in urinating after the test, pain and swelling at the site where the catheter was inserted and so on. Heart catheterization side effects are generally not very serious but patients who suffer from various medical problems should check with their doctor before under going the procedure.

The cost of heart catheterization will differ in each hospital. It is advisable to consult your doctor about the cost of the procedure. Before and after the heart catheterization test it is necessary that the patient keep the doctor well informed of  their health.