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Cardiac Catheterization In Atlanta

This is an invasive test, but it is considered the gold standard to evaluate for coronary artery disease. After being brought to the catheterization room, the patient is given a mild sedative for comfort. Then, the groin (or occasionally the arm) is prepared for the procedure in a sterile manner. The catheterization site is then numbed using a local anesthetic introduced with a small needle syringe containing lidocaine. After local anesthesia, a plastic sheath is inserted into the artery.

Through this sheath, a long plastic tube, the size of a spaghetti noodle is inserted. Using special X-ray equipment, the tube is directed through the artery and into selected areas in the heart and the arteries supplying it with blood. Dye is injected to determine the location and severity of blockages in the coronary arteries. If a severe blockage is noted, recommendations for corrective procedures such as angioplasty (opening the blockage using a balloon), stent placement (inserting a metal tube to prop open the site of blockage), or bypass surgery are made.

In addition, cardiac catheterization allows measurement of heart function, and of the pressures inside the heart chambers and lungs. This is useful to determine the presence of congestive heart failure, valvular heart disease, and lung disease.

To prepare for the procedure, the patient is instructed not to not eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of the procedure. Occasionally, IV fluid is given for hydration. For patients with kidney problems, a special medication is given the day before to protect kidney function. Patients are instructed to withhold certain medications both before and after the catheterization.

The procedure generally takes about an hour. After completion, the tube and sheath are removed. A plugging device may be used to reduce bed rest duration after the catheterization. Routine bed rest for a few hours is required to minimize bleeding and to avoid injury to the catheterization site. Because of the sedation, the patient cannot drive until the next day. Mild discomfort and discoloration may be noted in the catheterization site after the procedure.