Coronary Catheterizations (Heart Catheterization or Heart Cath)
ACV regularly performs coronary catheterizations. A heart catheterization is a test that allows your physician to visualize the arteries to your heart and identify any blockages. If blockages are identified, they may need to be treated with tools such as balloons and stents. We utilize these advanced tools and techniques to remove blockages from arteries that supply the heart muscle, returning blood flow and improving circulation.
Heart catheterizations are out-patient procedures done in catheterization labs at the hospital. When you arrive, you will be greeted by a member of our team who will explain the procedure, confirm your history and home medications, ask you to sign any necessary paperwork, obtain vital signs and establish an IV. Your physician will review your procedure with you and answer any questions prior to going forward with any procedure.
Prior to and during your procedure, you will be given medicine through your IV to provide sedation. This will allow you to remain comfortable throughout the procedure. We start a heart catheterization by placing a small tube in the artery in the groin or wrist. Through this tube, your doctor can inject dye to take pictures of the arteries surrounding your heart under X-ray. The X-ray pictures allow us to identify any blockages. If treatment is necessary, balloon angioplasty and stent placement can be performed to help clear the blockage.
Each device we choose is based on the type, composition and location of the blockage that you have. Our tools include:
- Balloon angioplasty: A thin tube with a balloon on the end is threaded into the artery until it reaches the area of blockage/narrowing. The balloon is then inflated to flatten or compress the blockage against the artery wall. This reduces the blockage and restores better blood flow through the artery. After the angioplasty, the balloon is deflated and removed from the body.
- Coronary (heart) stents: Small, expandable mesh tubes, called stents, are often used to treat blockages in the arteries to the heart after a balloon angioplasty. Stents are made of stainless steel or a combination of metal alloys. They are placed into the area of blockage with a balloon that expands the stent into position within your heart artery. The stent then serves as scaffolding to help restore and maintain the blood flow within that vessel. Once a stent is placed, it will remain in your artery permanently. Many stents have a medicine coating that helps prevent the return of blockage within your artery.
Plan on at least 2 hours for this procedure. While we could take less – or occasionally more time – 2 hours is typically standard.
After the procedure, you will be reunited with your family in a recovery room, where you will stay from 1 to 4 hours. It will be up to your physician to decide whether you will be able to go home the same day or remain in the hospital overnight.