CardioSpecialists Group, Ltd.
About Catheter-Based Procedures
What Is a Catheter Based Procedure?
A catheter based procedure is a technique used rather than a particular procedure. It allows your doctor to make a tiny cut through which a tube called a catheter is inserted. Depending upon the particular procedure being performed, the catheter might be equipped with a camera, balloon, stent, or suction device.
There are several different types of procedures which might be catheter based. These include: balloon angioplasty, coronary angiogram, atherectomy, transmyocardial revascularization (TMR), percutaneous balloon valvoplasty, ablation, heart valve replacement, and inserting either temporary pacemakers or clot busting drugs. Dozens of other heart procedures can now be done through catheters as well. Discuss with your doctor if your procedure is one of these.
How Is the Procedure Performed?
In the past, heart surgery required large incisions into the chest. While open heart surgery is still used today, many doctors opt to use a catheter based procedure if possible. Instead of a large incision, one or several small cuts are made. These are often no more than two to three inches long. Most of the time, the doctor will insert the catheter through a cut in the upper part of the thigh, near the groin, but your physician might select to use your wrist or elbow.
You will be given a sedative to relax you during the procedure. The area of the catheter insertion will be shaved, if necessary, cleaned, and an anesthetic applied. A tiny cut will be made into the spot and the doctor will feed the tube, known as the catheter, into the incision. You might feel some mild discomfort while the catheter is moving. Your doctor will use the catheter to perform the specific procedure or test required, and then the catheter will be removed, and you will be moved to recovery.
After the Procedure
You will be taken to recovery and told to lie down with your legs straight if the groin was where the catheter went in. Depending upon the procedure done, your doctor might keep you overnight at the hospital for monitoring. Even through you were awake for the procedure, you will likely not remember it, and for 24 hours after the procedure, you should take precautions to not drive, operate heavy machinery, engage in heavy lifting or strenuous exercise or make important decisions. You will likely be given a disclosure form to sign with these warnings before the procedure.
Is It Safe?
Catheter based procedures are regarded as safe, and they are a much safer option to open heart surgery.
You should expect some bruising and mild discomfort at the incision site, but if there is significant inflammation, pain, or swelling, you need to contact your doctor. Like any procedure, there are inherent risks, but all catheter procedures will take place in the catheter laboratory of a hospital where emergency equipment is on hand if needed.