Cardiac Catheterization Lab
Watch Intro to the Cardiac Cath Lab
Cardiac catheterization is a procedure performed by inserting a long, thin tube - a catheter - into an artery and vein and advancing it to the heart. The doctor can see the movement and location of the catheter through X-rays that are displayed on a television screen.
Dye that shows up on an X-ray is injected into the heart through the catheter. This process is called angiography. As the dye flows through the heart, it allows the cardiologist to see and take pictures of the heart's chambers, valves and blood vessels. The cardiologist also can measure blood pressure variances in each chamber.
Interventional procedures are done in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab. These include ballooning a small valve or vessel, and embolizing a vessel using a coil, and closing holes in the heart among others. Many interventional procedures are alternatives to surgery.
The day before the cardiac catheterization, your child will receive precatheterization testing, which includes cardiac tests and chest X-rays. This testing begins at St. Louis Children's Hospital's Outpatient Testing Area. A Cardiologist will meet with you to review your child's medical history, explain the cardiac catheterization procedure, and obtain a signed consent form. You also will be told when your child should not have anything more to eat or drink. On the morning of the cardiac catheterization, you should go to the Admitting Desk at your scheduled time.
When your child is called for the cardiac catheterization, the nurse will ask him or her to use the bathroom. One hour prior to the procedure, a premedication cream will be placed on both groin areas to numb the areas. The child also may be given a premedication to drink that makes him or her drowsy.
You may stay with and hold your child until he or she is ready to enter the cardiac catheterization lab. At that time, you will be asked to return to your child's room. The procedure lasts approximately three hours. If you leave your child's room, let the nurse know where you will be.
As soon as the procedure is completed, your child returns to his or her room, and a cardiologist will discuss the preliminary findings with you. A thick pressure dressing of elastic tape and gauze sponges will cover the catheter site.
Dr. David Balzer discusses cardiac catheterization.
Your child may be sleepy for a while from the sedative used during the procedure. To help prevent bleeding, the child should lay flat for several hours. Your child may receive fluids when he or she awakes, and diet will be advanced slowly as tolerated.
If surgery is not planned for the following day, your child will be discharged the morning after the catheterization. On certain occasions, your child may be able to go home the evening of the cardiac catheterization. Before discharge, a cardiologist sees your child and determines whether it is appropriate to leave. You will receive discharge instructions and supplies needed for wound care.