Medical Technology

Cardiac Catheterization

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Cardiac catheterization is a procedure that involves passing a catheter into the right or left side of the heart and sometimes individuals undergo catheterization of both sides of the heart. The procedure utilizes a thermodilution catheter that can calculate the cardiac output of the heart. The physician uses these calculations to evaluate the valves of the heart for insufficiency or stenosis. The procedure can also identify any septal wall defects of the heart, any congenital conditions and how well the heart is actually functioning and if there are any blockages to the blood supply to the heart.

This is the procedure where angioplasty is performed or coronary artery stents are placed. The coronary arteries are the blood supply of the heart and a total blockage of a coronary artery causes the individual to have a heart attack and that part of the heart muscle actually dies.

During the procedure a catheter is inserted into an artery or vein in the arm or leg. A local anesthetic is used to numb the incision site for the cardiac catheter insertion.

The procedure includes the use of contrast dye that usually produces a hot or flushing sensation. There are some individuals that may experience some nausea. The individual will be instructed to cough and deep breath while the procedure is going on. If an individual starts to experience chest pain, they will often give the patient nitroglycerin to dilate the coronary vessels and also helps to produce a better image for the physician to look at.

After the procedure, the individual will be instructed to lie flat for four to six hours. There will be a sandbag placed over the insertion site to prevent any hematoma from forming. A hematoma is a collection of blood under the skin's surface. There will be an IV ordered to help to promote excretion of the contrast dye.

Complications though infrequent can happen with a cardiac catheterization. These complications can be life threatening. Examples of complications:

Left or Right side cardiac catheterization:

* Arrhythmia's

+ Hypovolemia ( low volume)

* Infection

* Heart attack

* Pulmonary edema

* allergic reaction to the contrast dye

* Hematoma or significant blood loss at point of insertion

Left sided Heart :catheterization

* possibility of having a stroke increases

* Embolism in the limb

Right sided catheterization:

* Pulmonary embolism

* Thrombophlebitis

Cardiac catherizations are done to prevent the damage from an heart attack by opening up the coronary arteries with balloon angioplasty or placement of stents in the coronary arteries to keep coronary blood flow to the heart open. This procedure has become safer and frequently done with no major complications. This procedure is saving lives and the technique has dramatically improved from the early beginnings. This procedure has saved countless number of lives and has helped to keep heart function working at its optimal state.

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