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Cardiac Catheter

A cardiac catheter is used to help your cardiologist to find out information about your heart that other testing can't provide. It shows how the hearts chambers, valves and vessels are functioning.

A cardiac catheter is usually done with some sedation and local anaesthetic. There will be a small wound which will require a dressing for a few hours. During the procedure a thin flexible tube is inserted into a vein and/or artery, this is usually in the arm. The cardiologist uses x-ray screening to guide it into the different areas of the heart. The cardiologist usually performs a number of tests while it is the heart. These include:

  • recording the pressure in the different parts of the heart and the blood vessels.
  • evaluating the oxygen content of the blood in the different heart chambers.
  • injecting dye/contrast through the catheter and filming using x-ray to look at how this moves through the heart. This is called an angiogram and looks at your heart function.

Interventional catheters (catheters where the cardiologist undertakes procedures during your anaesthetic) such as vessel stenting, ballooning, device closure of small holes etc. can also be undertaken using a cardiac catheter too.

A catheter procedure usually takes 1-2 hrs but your cardiologist will talk to you before about what they are planning to do and how long it should take. Depending on the reason for your catheter, you may be able to go home on the same day, but if not, a single nights stay is usually sufficient. Your doctor will talk to you about the results before you go home. 

You can read more about having a cardiac catheter in adult services here or talk to your cardiologist or any member of your cardiac team if you have more questions about having a cardiac catheter procedure.