Right Heart Catheterization

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Right heart catheterization is a procedure to check the pressure in your heart and lungs. It is also called a Swan-Ganz or pulmonary artery catheterization. You may need this procedure if you have chest pain, shortness of breath, or decreased oxygen in your body. You may also need this procedure if you need heart surgery or have a heart condition.


CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

During the procedure, the catheter may tear a vein and cause bleeding. An air bubble may enter your lung, or your lung may collapse. You may have a heart attack. After the procedure, you may have bleeding or an infection. You may have damage to a heart valve, or a fistula (abnormal opening) may form between an artery and vein. You may have irregular heartbeats, which may cause dizziness or fainting. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. Without this procedure, your condition may get worse. These problems may become life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

  • Telemetry is continuous monitoring of your heart rhythm. Sticky pads placed on your skin connect to an EKG machine that records your heart rhythm.

  • Medicines:

    • Antihistamines help prevent a reaction to the dye used during your heart catheterization.

    • A sedative is given to help you stay calm and relaxed.

    • Steroids decrease inflammation and help prevent a reaction to the contrast dye.

  • Local anesthesia is a shot of medicine put into your arm or leg. It is used to numb the area and dull the pain. You may still feel pressure or pushing during the procedure.

During your procedure:

  • Your surgeon will insert a catheter into a vein in your arm, neck, or leg and use an x-ray to carefully guide the catheter to your heart. He will inject a dye so he can see the blood vessels, muscle, or valves of your heart more clearly. You may get a warm feeling or slight nausea right after the dye is injected. This is normal, and will pass quickly. Your surgeon may remove a small sample of heart tissue and send it to a lab for testing. He may also open a narrow or blocked heart valve or artery.

  • The catheter may be left in place to monitor pressure in your heart. When the catheter is removed, a caregiver will apply pressure to the incision site for at least 30 minutes to help decrease the risk of bleeding. A collagen plug or other closure devices may be used to close the site. Caregivers will cover the site with a pressure bandage, and may use a sandbag to decrease further bleeding.

After your procedure:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room. You may need to lie flat and keep your arm or leg straight for several hours. Arm or leg movement too soon can cause serious bleeding. Caregivers may ask you to drink more liquids to help flush the dye out of your body. If the catheter was in your groin and you need to cough, apply pressure over the area with your hands as directed.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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