Following a brief admitting process, you will be taken to your room where an RN will start an IV, shave the appropriate site (generally the right groin is used), and a physical assessment will be performed. All phases of the procedure will be explained to you.
You will then be brought to the Cath Lab and helped over onto the X-ray table. The site will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution and a small area of skin exposed. This phase of the preparation takes about 10 minutes.
Next, your physician will numb the area of skin over the artery. The numbing medication will sting for about 30 seconds. Once this area is numb, you may feel a sensation of pressure during the procedure, but you should not feel pain.
The first picture will check the effectiveness of your heart's pumping function. This will produce a hot flash that lasts about 30 seconds and rushes from your head to your toes. Patients report it not to be uncomfortable, just unusual. Pictures of your coronary arteries are then taken. You will notice our X-ray camera stopping to take a picture then rotating to the next position for another picture. You may be asked to take in a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds.
The entire cardiac catheterization procedure takes about 20-30 minutes. Once the procedure is complete, you will be taken by stretcher back to your room where the small catheter will be removed from the artery.
Evaluation of other arteries is performed in the same manner as cardiac catheterization. Blood flow in the arteries that lead to the brain, kidneys, abdomen, or legs can be studied during this procedure.