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The Cardiac Cath learning module is made up of 6 parts or sections. You may navigate through the pages by clicking on the green arrows or numbers (above), the specific questions (below) or the gray menu items on the left.

What is Cardiac Catheterization?
What Preparations are Needed?
How is Cardiac Cath performed?
What do I need to know about the equipment?
What is experienced in the Cath lab?
How long does it take?
What preparations are needed?
What happens after arrival in the cath lab area?
How safe is the procedure?
What is the reliability of the test?
How quickly will I get the results?
Show me a panoramic view of the Cardiac cath lab?

How is Cardiac Cath Performed?

Notice: The video in this section was filmed during an actual cardiac cath procedure. It is graphic and may not be suitable for viewers who are bothered by the sight of needles, syringes or blood. Please note that the patient is sedated and does not see the needles. Also, there is usually no, or little, discomfort associated with this.
  • Sedation
    Intravenous medications are used to relax the patient. The patient is able to ask questions and follow the requests of the cardiologists, nurses and Techs. This can include having to take a deep breath or let the cath team know if there is any discomfort being induced by the procedure. The goal is to keep the patient extremely comfortable and relaxed without being put to sleep. This process is known as "conscious sedation".
  • "Numbing" of the Groin
    Groin being "numbed"
    The groin area is then "numbed" with the use of local anesthesia. This is induced by injecting lidocaine into the skin and adjoining area. The process is similar to a dentist numbing the gums prior to a dental procedure. The patient may feel a little stinging sensation at this time.
    Click on the play button to view this, and the subsequent movies.

  • Entering the Artery

    Needle introduction

    The artery is felt by the fingertips, and a needle is directed towards the arterial pulsation. When blood escapes out of the needle, the cardiologist knows that entrance to the artery has been gained. Since the area was previously "numbed" with local anesthesia, there is usually very little discomfort associated with this.
  • Entering the Needle with a Wire

    Introduction of guide wire

    A thin flexible wire is then introduced into the needle. This is known as a guide-wire because it helps guide catheters, just like a rail guides the path of a train. The purple plastic "tip deflector" helps straighten the curved and floppy tip of the guide wire. The needle and the tip deflector are then removed.

  • Introducing a Sheath over the Wire

    Introduction of sheath

    A tubular and flexible plastic sheath that is usually about 2 1/2 or three millimeters in diameter (thickness) is advanced over the guide-wire and placed in the artery. This serves as a passage-way or introducer for the insertion of catheters. The sheath has a white plastic "hub" that sits outside the skin. The hub contains a one-way valve that allows catheters to be introduced through the sheath but prevents blood from escaping.

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This Page was Last reviewed on December 18, 2013

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