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Last updated: 11/24/2009

Morbidity/Mortality

As with all invasive procedures, cardiac catheterization involves some risks. The most serious complications include stroke and myocardial infarction. Other complications include cardiac arrhythmias, pericardial tamponade, vessel injury, and renal...

failure. One study demonstrated a total risk of major complications under 2% for all patients. The risk of death from cardiac catheterization has been demonstrated at 0.11%. The most common complications resulting from cardiac catheterization are vascular related, including external bleeding at the arterial puncture site, hematomas, and pseudoaneurysms.

The patient may be given anticoagulant medications to lower the risk of developing an arterial blood clot (thrombosis) or of blood clots forming and traveling through the body (embolization).

The risk of complications from cardiac catheterization is higher in patients over the age of 60; those who have severe heart failure; or those with advanced valvular disease.

Allergic reactions related to the contrast agent (dye) and anesthetics may occur in some patients during cardiac catheterization. Allergic reactions may range from minor hives and swelling to severe shock. Patients with allergies to seafood or penicillin are at a higher risk of allergic reaction; giving antihistamines prior to the procedure may reduce the occurrence of allergic reactions to contrast agents.



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During cardiac catherization, a catheter is fed into the femoral artery of the upper leg (A). The catheter is fed up to coronary arteries to an area of blockage (B). A dye is released, allowing visualization of the blockage (C). (Illustration by GGS Inc.) During cardiac catherization, a catheter is fed into the femoral artery of the upper leg (A). The catheter is fed up to coronary arteries to an area of blockage (B). A dye is released, allowing visualization of the blockage (C). (Illustration by GGS Inc.)




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Other Information

Cardiac catheterization (heart cath) is the insertion of a catheter into a chamber or vessel of the heart. This is done for both investigational and interventional purposes. Coronary catheterization is a subset of this technique, involving the catheterization of the coronary arteries.

A small puncture is made in a vessel in the groin, the inner bend of the elbow, or neck area (the femoral vessels or the carotid/jugular vessels), then a guidewire is inserted into the incision and threaded through the vessel into the area of the heart that requires treatment, visualized by fluoroscopy or echocardiogram, and a catheter is then threaded over the guidewire. If X-ray fluoroscopy is used, a radiocontrast agent will be administered to the patient during the procedure. When the necessary procedures are complete, the catheter is removed. Firm pressure is applied to the site to prevent bleeding. This may be done by hand or with a mechanical device. Other closure techniques include an internal suture. If the femoral artery was used, the patient will probably be asked to lie flat for several hours to prevent bleeding or the development of a hematoma. Cardiac interventions such as the insertion of a stent prolong both the procedure itself as well as the post-catheterization time spent in allowing the wound to clot.

A cardiac catheterization is a general term for a group of procedures that are performed using this method, such as coronary angiography, as well as left ventrical angiography. Once the catheter is in place, it can be used to perform a number of procedures including angioplasty, angiography, and balloon septostomy.


From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardiac_catheterization

Other Information

In 2006, 2,192 heart transplantations were performed in the United States. There are 257 transplant hospitals in the United States, 135 of which perform heart transplantations. (http://www.unos.org/)


From: Unos.org

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