Cardiac Catheterization

Transforming Treatment with Interventional Cardiology

San Ramon Regional Medical Center offers a wide range of cardiovascular procedures, including diagnostic and interventional procedures, such as cardiac catheterization. Minimally invasive procedures like cardiac catheterization are safe and effective procedures to diagnose and treat conditions and diseases that affect the heart.

What Tests Are Done in a Cath Lab?

Our experienced and compassionate cardiac care team at San Ramon Regional Medical Center performs the following diagnostic and interventional procedures in our cardiac cath lab:

  • Balloon angioplasty
  • Coronary and left ventricular digital angiography
  • Coronary intravascular ultrasound
  • Right and left heart catheterization
  • Rotational atherectomy
  • Stent implantation
  • Thrombectomy
  • Laser innovations, such as transmyocardial laser revascularization

What is Cardiac Catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization, also called cardiac cath or heart cath, uses a thin, hollow tube called a catheter to determine if you have a condition affecting your heart muscle, valves or coronary arteries.

A procedure called coronary angiography is performed together with cardiac catheterization by injecting a contrast dye through the catheter, which is visible in X-rays. It allows doctors to look for blocked arteries.

Once the catheter is in place, your doctor may perform tests or treatments on your heart to help:

  • Better understand the results from other tests and procedures, such as echocardiography, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and cardiac computerized tomography (CT) scan.
  • Diagnose the cause of your chest pain, arrhythmia or other signs and symptoms of a heart problem or evaluate you during an emergency such as a heart attack.
  • Evaluate you before a possible heart transplant.
  • Look at the pulmonary arteries for conditions, including a pulmonary embolism that can occur because of venous thromboembolism.
  • Measure oxygen levels and pressures of the blood in your heart, such as in your ventricles, atria and pulmonary arteries.

How Serious is a Heart Catheterization?

According to the American Heart Association, there is a low probability that problems will develop during cardiac catheterization. It is usually a safe procedure with a few people developing minor issues, including bruises on the catheter site. Some people may feel sick to their stomachs and get itchy or develop hives because of the contrast dye that makes the arteries appear on X-rays. Bleeding and blood clots are rare, but your doctor may recommend medicines to prevent complications after the procedure.

Cardiac catheterization can be either diagnostic or therapeutic. Interventional cardiologists can perform a variety of interventions depending on the patient's needs.

Some of the diagnostic procedures and conditions that can benefit from cardiac catheterization include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Measurement of the hemodynamics in the right and left sides of the heart
  • Evaluation of the left ventricular function
  • Assessment and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias
  • Evaluation and treatment of valvular heart disease
  • Assessment of pericardial and myocardial diseases
  • Evaluation of congenital heart diseases
  • Evaluation of heart failure

How Do I Prepare for a Visit to a Cath Lab?

Your cardiologist will provide more detailed instructions and may ask you to give blood and urine samples in preparation for the following procedures:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
  • Chest X-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • Stress test
  • Cardiac CT scan
  • Cardiac MRI
  • Blood tests, including a complete blood count (CBC), to check your hemoglobin and platelet levels; blood chemistry tests to check how well your liver and kidneys are working and tests to check your blood's ability to clot.

Some questions to ask your doctor before your procedure include:

  • What will you learn from the procedure?
  • When will I get my results?
  • When can I resume my normal activities?
  • What medicines will I need to take?
  • Will I need another treatment?

How Long Does it Take to Recover from a Cardiac Catheterization?

Most people can return to their normal activities the day after the procedure. You may have to stay for a few days depending on additional interventions needed for your condition.

Schedule follow-up appointments before you leave the hospital and know the possible complications that may occur after the procedure. Be sure to follow the treatment plan your doctor recommends for your condition as soon as you get home.

Call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Your leg with the puncture becomes numb or tingles, or your foot feels cold or turns blue.
  • The area around the puncture site looks more bruised.
  • The puncture site swells or fluids drain from it.

If the puncture site swells up or bleeding from the puncture site does not slow down when you press firmly, call 911.

Insurances Accepted

San Ramon Regional Medical Center accepts various insurance plans and offers options for payment plan flexibility to help you get the quality care you need. We have a dedicated staff to assist you with your insurance coverage and financial arrangements. Let us help put your mind at ease. Please call 925-275-9200 or see this page for your billing and insurance questions. If you have specific questions about your coverage, you may contact your insurance provider directly.

Find a Cardiologist

If you have been diagnosed with a heart condition, let us help. Count on the quality and compassionate care you deserve at San Ramon Regional Medical Center. Our experienced cardiologists and dedicated staff are here to help you navigate your heart journey.

Take charge of your heart health. Speak with one of our cardiologists to learn about your condition and treatment options. If it's an emergency, call 911. Please do not delay care.

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