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Heart & Vascular Institute

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac Catheterization > Frequently Asked Questions


What should I do in preparation for my procedure?

Arrange transportation to and from the hospital, bring a current medication and allergy list, and any necessities you may want should you be admitted to the hospital. If you require CPAP at night while sleeping, we suggest you bring your unit with you.

May I eat or drink the night before my procedure?

You may eat and drink normally until 6 hours before your scheduled arrival time if you are having an outpatient procedure.  If you are already hospitalized, no food or drink will be provided after midnight prior to the day of your procedure.

Should I take my medications on the day of my procedure?

Your doctor will advise you about which medications to take on the day of your procedure. Please drink only enough water to swallow the pills comfortably.

Where do I go for my outpatient catheterization?

Please park in the James Street parking garage and exit the 2nd floor where you will be directed to the Heart & Vascular Institute registration area. Here your personal health and insurance information will be reviewed, and then you’ll be escorted to the area where you will have your procedure.

Will I need to sign any paperwork?

There will be paperwork that needs to be filled out when you arrive at the hospital. You may be asked to sign consent forms that allow us to treat you and perform the procedure(s). By signing these forms you are stating that a physician has explained the procedure(s) to you and that you understand the risks and benefits of the procedure(s).

Where will my family wait while I am in the procedure room?

During your procedure, family and friends will be directed to our Skylight Information and Waiting Center on the second floor. They will check in at the front desk and receive a pager. At the end of the procedure, our staff members will call the Information and Waiting Center, who will locate and escort your family and friends to the Cath Lab. Your cardiologist will explain the results of the procedure with you and your family and friends.

What if I have allergies?

You will be asked about your allergies multiple times before your procedure. If you are allergic to X-ray dye, iodine, or shell fish, you will be given additional medications to prevent an allergic reaction.

Why is the Cath Lab so cold?

Cool temperatures assist in keeping infection rates low and our X-ray equipment is most efficient at these temperatures. We have an ample supply of warm blankets to keep you comfortable during your procedure.

How long will I wait for my procedure?

Waiting times vary. You will be brought to the hospital two hours before your scheduled procedure time to complete lab work and X-rays. Variable procedure times along with emergency procedures can also add to the wait time. Please plan to spend the entire day at the hospital.

Which part of my body will be used?

Generally the artery in your right wrist is used for the procedure. However, your cardiologist may choose to use your right or left groin or left wrist if necessary.

How big will the hole in my leg be and is there an incision?

Getting access into your artery is just like starting an IV so there will be no incision made during your procedure. The sheath that is inserted into your artery is approximately the size of a coffee stirrer. The size of the sheath is dependent on the procedure being performed.

Will there be any discomfort?

There will be some discomfort involved while we numb the area and get access into your artery. Many patients remark that it was very easy and without any significant discomfort. Please be reassured that we make every attempt to minimize any and all discomfort that is associated with the procedure.

How long will I have to lie on my back after the procedure?

Bed rest is dependent on the procedure being performed. Your cardiologist will determine the length of your bed rest.

When can I eat?

If the procedure was done through your wrist only, you can eat immediately after the procedure. If the procedure was performed from your leg, you will not be able to eat until the sheaths are removed. This time will vary.

Why do staff members wear lead, and how much radiation will I receive during my procedure?

Scientists and medical doctors, using numerous clinical study results, have determined that the amount of radiation dose you will receive is safe. Your risk is minimal. Our staff members work in the radiation all day; so, they need to protect themselves by wearing lead and using shields when possible.

Will I have to stay overnight?

This will be determined by your cardiologist.

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