The Process of Cardiac Catheterization

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Cardiac Catherization
Cardiac catheterization is the insertion of a catheter into a chamber or vessel of the heart. This is done for both investigational and interventional purposes. Subsets of this technique are mainly coronary catheterization, involving the catheterization of the coronary arteries, and catheterization of cardiac chambers and valves. Local anesthetic is injected into the skin, usually in the right groin, right radial or brachial artery to numb the area. A puncture is then made with a needle in either the femoral artery in the groin or the radial artery in the wrist before a guidewire is inserted into the arterial puncture. A plastic sheath is then threaded over the wire and pushed into the artery. The wire is then removed and the side-port of the sheath is aspirated to ensure arterial blood flows back. It is then flushed with saline. This arterial sheath, with a bleedback prevention valve (which prevents arterial blood from freely flowing back out of the puncture site), acts as a conduit into the artery for the duration of the procedure. Catheters are inserted using a guidewire and moved towards the heart. Once in position above the aortic valve the guidewire is then removed. The catheter is then engaged with the origin of the coronary artery (either left main stem or right coronary artery) and x-ray opaque iodine-based contrast is injected to make the coronary vessels show up on the x-ray fluoroscopy image. When the necessary procedure is complete, the catheter is removed. Firm pressure is applied to the site to prevent bleeding. If the femoral artery was used, the patient will probably be asked to lie flat for several hours to prevent bleeding or the development of a hematoma. This technique has several goals:

* confirm the presence of a suspected heart ailment
* quantify the severity of the disease and its affect on the heart * seek out the cause of a symptom such a SOB or signs of cardiac insufficiency * to measure...
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