Left heart catheterization is a medical procedure used to diagnose and treat various heart conditions. During this procedure, a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into the left side of the heart through an artery in your wrist, arm, or groin.
This catheterization is often performed to
- Diagnose Heart Conditions
- Assess Coronary Arteries
- Measure Pressure and Blood Flow
Before the procedure commences, a mild sedative is administered to promote relaxation. An intravenous (IV) line is placed in your arm for medication delivery, and you'll lie on procedure table.
The physician creates a small incision near an artery, typically in the wrist or groin, and gently inserts a flexible catheter through the incision into the artery. Most patients remain awake during this process.
Measurement and Imaging
As the catheter advances through the aortic valve into the left heart, pressure readings are taken. Contrast material is injected into heart chambers and arteries, and X-ray imaging captures detailed views of cardiac structures.
You might experience a momentary sensation of warmth or flushing when the contrast material enters the heart; this is a normal and brief occurrence.
Photography and X-Rays
The X-ray camera records images of arteries and heart chambers while the contrast material is in circulation. Occasionally, you may be asked to briefly hold your breath during this phase.
After all necessary images are acquired, the catheter is gently removed, and the room lights are restored. Removal of the sheath used for catheter insertion is executed cautiously to prevent bleeding.
Throughout the procedure, local anesthesia is administered to numb the insertion site, ensuring minimal discomfort. While you receive a sedative to promote relaxation, you'll remain alert to follow instructions.
After the procedure, you will be monitored for a few hours to ensure there is no bleeding or other complications. Most patients can go home after this period, although someone else may need to drive you. You'll receive specific post-procedure instructions, which may include avoiding strenuous activities and keeping the insertion site clean to promote a smooth recovery. It's essential to report any unusual symptoms or discomfort to your healthcare physician.