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Frequently Asked Questions











What is cardiac catheterization?
Cardiac catheterization is a diagnostic study that provides valuable insight into the anatomy of the arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood.

It allows doctors to see if blockages exist in the critical vessels involved in heart attacks.











What are the benefits?
The cardiac catheterization procedure helps providers guide their patients through potential options of therapy, which include risk factor (diabetes, hypertension, tobacco abuse, obesity, etc.) modification, medical therapy, angioplasty, stents and sometimes bypass surgery.







What should I expect before the procedure?
Our staff calls patients the day before their scheduled procedure to answer any questions.

Patients with concerns or questions about the procedure should call the lab at (207) 621-7200.

Patients are asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight the day before their procedure.

They are instructed to take regularly scheduled medications, unless directed otherwise, and to bring a list of their current medications to the hospital when they arrive for the procedure.

Patients must arrange for someone to drive them home as they are not allowed to drive themselves.

About an hour beforehand, patients often are given a mild sedative which allows them to remain awake but relaxed during the procedure.

The patient will be moved onto the X-ray table where EKG electrodes and other equipment will be attached.

Depending on the access site for the cath - groin or radial cath - the site will be cleaned with antiseptic solution and covered with sterile drapes before the doctor injects numbing medication.







How is the procedure done?
After the sedating medication has taken effect, the doctor makes a small puncture to insert the catheter into the patient's blood vessel.

A blood vessel in either the groin or arm will be used. The catheter is guided into the heart vessel, where dye is then injected into the coronary arteries.

X-ray pictures are taken to help the physician make a diagnosis.

Dye also can be injected into the heart's pumping chamber to evaluate how well the heart is pumping and how well the valves are working.

Patients may feel some warmth or flushing after the dye injections; but this is to be expected with this procedure.

The entire time patients are in the cath lab will be about one hour.

Patients should let their doctor know if they experience any chest pain, dizziness, numbness, tingling or shortness of breath during the procedure.







What should I expect after the procedure?
Once the catheterization is complete, the patient is moved back to the room where the tube in the groin will be removed. Firm pressure will be applied to the area for 20 minutes.

If the radial site is accessed, a compression device will be in place from between 45 minutes to two hours, depending on the medications the patient is on.

If you experience faintness, dizziness, cold hands or feet, please let the staff know.

If you have the heart cath via the groin, it is necessary for you to lie flat in bed for four hours following your catheterization to allow the puncture site to heal properly.

Patients who have the heart cath via the radial site are able to get out of bed as soon as the sedatives wear off. Recovery from a heart cath via the radial artery typically takes two to three hours.

During this time, your nurse will be checking the site frequently for bleeding.

Your pulse and blood pressure will be monitored frequently as well. You will be given something to eat and drink as soon as possible after your procedure.