Departments A - Z

Cardiac Catheterisation

 This test provides vital information regarding your hearts structure and function. It also gives precise information on heart pressures and oxygen levels. This test provides information which will aid in the decision of your future management.

The catheter test occurs in the CV Lab (cardiovascular department), which is located in the lower ground floor of the old hospital. The procedure takes between 30 minutes to an hour. You should not eat or drink before the test. Most people have the catheter test as a day procedure. However some patients will need a short stay in hospital.

A catheter is a long, flexible, hollow plastic tube, about the width of the lead of a pencil. This is passed into a vein or artery either in the groin or less commonly the arm. You will have a local anaesthetic to numb the area where the catheter is put in so it should not be painful.

The cardiologist then uses an x–ray screen to help direct the catheter through the blood vessels and into the correct position in the heart. You will not feel the catheter moving around your chest but you may feel an occasional missed or extra heart beat.

If you wish you can watch the procedure on the video screen. X-ray films are taken by putting fluid down the catheter. The fluid causes a hot flushing sensation which last a few seconds. Your blood pressure and oxygen levels are constantly recorded while this procedure is taking place .

After the test you are requested to stay on bed rest for 4–6 hours. The puncture site will be examined several times after the procedure to check for bruising or possible bleeding. On discharge you will need a responsible person to be with you for the next 24 hours. The site where the catheter was inserted may be tender for a few days. Most people get back to normal activity after a day or two but this varies from one person to another .

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