What is a Right Heart Catheterization?

It is a test done to see how well your heart is pumping. It helps measure the blood pressure in your heart and the main blood vessels in your lungs. A thin plastic tube (catheter) is placed into one of the larger veins in either your neck, arm or leg.

4381 heartflow

In the picture, the catheter will follow the grey path.

Why is this done?

  • Measure the amount of fluid in your blood vessels.

  • Measure the pressures in your heart and lungs.

  • Learn how well your heart or lungs are working.

  • Help your doctors decide which drugs would be best for you.

  • This test is done on patients with heart failure and other heart or lung conditions.
    Such as:

  • Patients being evaluated for heart or lung transplant.

  • Patients on the waiting list for a heart or lung transplant.

  • Patients having a heart biopsy after their heart transplant.

  • Patients with high blood pressure in the lungs.

  • Patients who are short of breath for unknown reasons.

Before the Test

A nurse will call you a few days before to give you instructions and information.

Shower the evening before or morning of your test.

Do not eat or drink after midnight the night before your test.

You will be told what pills to take the morning of the test. You can take with a few sips of water.

Bring a list of your medicines. Include all inhalers and over the counter medicines and supplements. Bring in the original bottles if asked to do so. If you are on special medicine that is delivered with an infusion pump, you will be asked to bring along all supplies and an extra medicine bag in case your pump fails.

If you use a CPAP or BIPAP machine, bring it with you, along with hoses and mask.

Remove all jewelry including wedding rings.

Remove contact lenses. Bring your case with saline solution for storage.

You can wear your hearing aids.

You may need to wear comfortable shoes for exercising during this study.

Arrange for a driver to take you home. You will not be allowed to drive for 24 hours.

Day of the Procedure

Arrive at the UW Hospital Heart and Vascular Care Procedure Center at the time you are told. The test lasts about 30 minutes.

Let us know if you do not want family or friends present when you meet with the doctor.

A staff person will talk to you about why you are having the test and the risks involved. Tell you if there are other options and answer any questions you have.

Discuss what vein will used and place an IV.

You will be asked to sign a consent form. This form gives the doctor permission to do the test. Be sure to ask any questions before signing the form.

In the Cath Lab

Cath Lab

Friends and family will be shown to a waiting area. They will rejoin you after the test. The results will be given to you at this time.

You will be asked to put on a gown. You will lie on a narrow table flat so the x-ray machine can rotate around the upper part of your body. If you have back problems, tell the staff and they can help you find a more comfortable position.

Patches will be placed on the upper part of your body. These patches are hooked to machines that show your heartbeat.

A nurse will clean the area over your procedure site. The rest of your body will be covered with sterile drapes. Medicines will be given through your IV to help you relax.
The doctor will numb the skin at the site. You may feel pressure at the site but should not feel sharp pain. The doctor will insert the catheter into your neck, arm, or groin vein.

X-ray is used to help the doctor place the catheter in the proper place.

They will measure your blood pressure and blood flow in your heart and lungs.

You may be asked to exercise by using a small arm or leg machine.

At the end, the catheter is removed. Pressure will be held at the site. A bandage will be placed over the site. You will then return to your room.

After your Procedure:

Remove your bandage after 24 hours. Shower by letting soap and water flow over the site.

Do not scrub or rub the site.

Do not put any lotions, powders, perfumes or colognes on the site.

Do not lift, push or pull more than 10 pounds or a jug of milk for 1 week after your test.

Do not swim, go in a hot tub or take a bath in a bathtub for 1 week after your test.

Other after care instructions may be given.

You will be told when to return to your normal medicines and diet.

When to Call

If you bleed at the site, hold firm pressure on the area for a few minutes without letting go. If the bleeding or oozing stops, monitor it and call to report any concerns. If it continues to bleed, continue holding firm pressure seek care at your closest hospital.

Who to Call

UW Health Cardiovascular

Medicine Clinic-608-263-1530