Cardiac catheterization is the insertion of a catheter through an artery or vein to reach blood vessels in the heart, explains Mayo Clinic. This procedure treats and diagnoses cardiovascular conditions, has a fast recovery time and typically has a low risk of complications.
During a cardiac catheterization, a doctor can find problems in the heart valves, locate blockages or narrowing in blood vessels, take tissues samples from the heart, measure oxygen levels and pressure in different areas of the heart, detect congenital heart defects, and monitor heart pumping, explains Mayo Clinic. Treatments that utilize cardiac catheterization include the replacement or repair of heart valves, angioplasty, balloon valvuloplasty, heart arrhythmia treatment, blood clot treatments and the remedying of congenital heart defects. Recovery time is typically several hours, and the patient lies flat during this time to allow the punctured artery to heal and to prevent heavy bleeding.
Cardiac catheterization risks include stroke, heart attack, bruising, bleeding, infection, kidney damage, allergic reaction to the medication or dye, irregular heart rhythms, artery damage or tears in the artery or heart tissue, warns Mayo Clinic. Major complications from cardiac catheterization are rare. Pregnant women and those preparing for pregnancy should inform their doctors before having a cardiac catheterization.