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When mentioning the word catheterization , surely you immediately think of the heart, and that is, it is one of the most important organs for human beings, since the whole body and your life depend on its proper development and functioning . But, there are circumstances that could change that reality and limit its proper procedure, due to irregular heartbeats, injuries to blood vessels, clots, bleeding, among other conditions.

For this, the exhaustive revision of this vital organ is possible through a catheterization. Now, before employing such a thorough treatment, it is very important that you ask yourself: Do I really know what it is? Could I have a catheterization if I need it? Is it really beneficial?

The good news is that the answers to these questions can be answered right here and right now . So don’t stop reading to the end.

What is a catheterization?

It is an exam that is carried out through a catheter , a small and thin metal tube that is inserted through a blood vessel, and, with the help of a cardiologist, the instrument is guided to the vital organ. In most cases, the catheter is inserted into the large femoral artery located in the buttocks. All this without the need for a surgical intervention.

How long does the treatment last?

Although it is a delicate procedure, you should not be afraid, because you will not be long in the medical center. The exam can be carried out between 30 and 60 minutes , depending on each patient and their complications or discomfort.

However, in some cases it may last longer if other complementary or special treatments are used together with the catheterization . In the process where the catheter is applied to the groin, it is necessary for the patient to lie on his back for several hours to avoid bleeding.

cardiac catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is based on an invasive and complex procedure that allows to evaluate the state of the heart in a deep and detailed way, getting to know the functioning of the coronary arteries, the levels of blood that the heart pumps, the measurement of the cardiac cavities and the supervision of any altered valve. That is, a complete check-up.

How is cardiac catheterization performed?

Because it is a very relevant exam, the first action that the specialist will take will be to provide you with some medication to relax you before starting the whole process. Afterwards, the area of ​​the body will need to be cleaned where an IV will be inserted into one of the veins.

Subsequently, a larger thin plastic tube is placed inside the vein or artery and the catheter is transferred through it , which is very small and is the one that allows access to the heart through the use of X-rays.

Once there, the doctor can perform various actions, such as taking blood samples from the heart, measuring the pressure and blood flow in the chambers of the heart or in the arteries around it, as well as performing a myocardial biopsy. .

Before the evaluation, it is important that you take into account some considerations, such as being rested and fasting for at least 4 hours . In addition, avoid or suspend the consumption of your own medication, or that which has not been prescribed by the heart specialist.

Why perform a cardiac catheterization?

Of course, you can surely feel your heartbeat when you are a few minutes of silence, but without the presence of symptoms it is impossible to know how all the activity of an organ such as the heart flows , if there is any abnormality, complications or infection.

And it is here where catheterization offers the opportunity to know and diagnose , if it is the case, the diversity of heart problems that may arise. Such as the ones you will read below:

  • Unstable angina pectoris: It is a severe pain in the chest due to lack of blood supply in the coronary arteries . It is of immediate attention since it can trigger a heart attack if the pain is recurrent.
  • Arrhythmias : The catheter can reach the internal chambers of the heart, such as the atria and ventricles, providing a study of arrhythmias by electrical stimulation of the walls of the heart. Catheterization can treat and eliminate some arrhythmias.
  • Cardiac malformations: Although it is possible to identify them with an echocardiography, catheterization can also diagnose and treat certain malformations of the heart with small interventricular communications.
  • Myocardial infarction : It is the obstruction of the coronary arteries, also generating an infarction of the heart muscle, the myocardium . It is a serious problem that must be addressed urgently.

Risks of catheterization

Like all health treatment, there are built-in dangers that you must weigh when requiring a catheterization for yourself or a family member. However, you should keep in mind that the risks can be reduced as long as there is an exam schedule . Therefore, we will mention what are the most common risks after performing a catheterization:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Allergic reaction.
  • Infections in the area where the catheter is inserted.
  • Immersion in blood pressure.
  • Damage to blood vessels.
  • Severe pain in the area where the catheter is inserted.
  • Radiation hazard during treatment.
  • Formation of blood clots
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • In extreme cases: kidney failure, heart attack or stroke.

It is also relevant to know some contraindications, since not all people can have a catheterization if they present some of these situations. If so, they will need to resort to another type of treatment to care for their heart .

On the other hand, it is important to know that this procedure is not recommended when the following situations arise :

  1. Hemophilia.
  2. Diabetes .
  3. Renal problems.
  4. History of heart attack.
  5. Infections

How is the post-catheterization recovery?

This point should not cause you concern, since recovery is usually very fast compared to other medical evaluations. If there are no complications, the patient is discharged the same day , after a few hours of rest, or the next day.

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To help avoid difficulties, it is very important to suspend all kinds of physical activities that alter the respiratory process , as well as avoid lifting weights for the next 2 weeks after the procedure.

Being at home, it is normal for the patient to feel slight pain in the area where the catheter was placed, in addition to witnessing some bruising around it. But, the entire recovery will also vary depending on where the exam has been decided. For example:

If the starting point was in the groin, it will be necessary to limit going up and down stairs for the first 3 days , but walking short distances on flat surfaces is recommended. On the other hand, do not drive motorcycles or vehicles, lift weights, play sports or stand on tiptoe for 2 days after the evaluation.

Now, if the catheter was placed in the arm, the limitations are the following: do not lift any weight, or move, push or twist using force with the arms. For both cases, all types of sexual activity should also be suspended for the next 5 days, avoid baths for a week or supervise that the area where the catheter was does not get wet between the first 24 to 48 hours.

How do you know if there is a post-catheterization emergency?

If you present any of these symptoms or irregularities, it is necessary that you go to the medical center or contact the specialist who performed the treatment. Pay attention to the following listing:

  • Heavy bleeding in the area where the catheter was inserted.
  • Area where the catheter was applied that is color-changing, cold to the touch, or insensitive.
  • Yellow or green discharge.
  • Difficulty breathing that does not go away after rest.
  • The pulse feels irregular.
  • Presence of dizziness , feeling faint or tired.
  • Coughing up blood or yellow or green mucosa.
  • Chills or fever above 38 degrees.

Catheterization treatments

The catheterization procedure can be complemented with other types of treatments , and also performed in various ways, which can provide better results or reduce some risks.

Transradial cardiac catheterization

Although it is an unusual treatment, since few medical centers perform it, it is conventional in countries in Europe and Asia. The interesting thing about this catheterization is that the cardiology specialist can access the heart by inserting the catheter from inside the wrist , specifically through the radial artery.

As a benefit, it can be highlighted that the procedure is more practical and comfortable, allowing you to return home once the check-up is finished , eliminating complications related to bleeding and avoiding having to lie down for many hours.

However, it is not for every patient , especially if they have advanced kidney disease, coronary artery bypass surgery, or major complications that require larger catheters.

Angioplasty and stent implantation

They are processes that help improve blood flow in the arteries and veins of the body. Angioplasty, which can be performed with or without a stent implant, a small, flexible plastic tube or wire mesh to support the damaged walls of the artery, can be used in various parts of the body to treat different conditions , such as following:

  1. Obstruction or narrowing of the aorta and its branches.
  2. Peripheral artery disease (PAD).
  3. Vascular renal hypertension.
  4. Carotid artery disease.
  5. Venous narrowing.
  6. Blocked dialysis grafts or fistulas.

Unlike the other procedures, a catheter with a balloon-shaped head is inserted and when it reaches its destination, a contrast liquid is injected into the artery to better visualize the obstruction, and, in addition, the balloon at the tip allows it to be inflated and deflate in order to unclog the vessel and increase blood flow in the artery.


This surgical procedure is very similar to the second one mentioned in this list, such as angioplasty. A laser or spiral-shaped blade is used to cut and remove plaque build -up on the arterial walls, thus giving greater blood flow. Stent implants can also be added .

Types of catheterization

In addition to the cardiac catheter, which is normally used to treat heart conditions, there are also other prototypes that can be used according to the needs of the patient. Find out now which are each of them:

  • Pericardial catheter: It is introduced below the appendix region of the sternum, since it allows better drainage of the fluid that is accumulated in the pericardium , which is one of the membranes that covers the heart. This method is used mainly when the patient has breathing problems.
  • Double J catheter: In patients with kidney stones, the catheter is introduced into the ureter , thus avoiding its obstruction due to the displacement of existing stones.
  • Permacap catheter: This technique is used through any vascular access to provide chemotherapy treatment in cancer patients or antibiotics; It can also be used in patients with vascular difficulties or those who are at high risk of death.
  • Catheter for cerebral ventricle: It is used when there are cerebral vascular complications , such as hemorrhage, head trauma, malignant tumors, among others.
  • Tenckoff catheter: In this procedure, the catheter is inserted intraperitoneally, or in the abdominal area , in order to provide a replacement treatment for renal function.

So, with the analysis that you have done of all this information, you will be able to determine that catheterization is much more than a medical examination focused on the attention of the heart. In addition, it is not only performed in elderly people, it can also be performed in the same way in children and adolescents if the health situation requires it.

The most important thing is that it is in the hands of a qualified specialist, professional instruments and a responsible and authorized medical team to guarantee excellent results . Due to its complexity, it is normal to have a little fear or worry, but with this aspect assured, you will have greater confidence that everything will work out. Prepared? We are sure that it is.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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