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Guide to Cardiac Catheterization, Angioplasty, and Stent Implantation

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure used to detect the presence of disease in the coronary arteries, the heart muscle, and the valves within the heart. It is performed by inserting a catheter through an artery and/or vein; the catheter is then advanced to the heart. Pressures within the heart are measured and a contrast dye is injected to visualize the coronary arteries and the pumping action of the heart. "Coronary angiogram" refers to the part of the exam which involves injecting contrast dye into the coronary arteries.

If blockages are detected in the coronary arteries, these arteries may be opened through a procedure known as "angioplasty" or "stent implantation." A diagnostic cardiac catheterization may be performed as an outpatient procedure. Patients may stay overnight after the procedure depending on the results of the catheterization or after an angioplasty/stent implantation.

Before the Procedure
  • We will be in contact with your referring physician to confirm that you had the appropriate pre-procedure tests, including an ECG and blood tests (complete blood count with platelets, biochemistry profile, PT/PTT/INR). Additional information will be requested, such as reports of echocardiograms, stress tests, cardiac CT scans, prior cardiac catheterizations, and operative reports of coronary artery bypass surgery.

  • A representative from the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory will contact you prior to your procedure to verify your information and confirm the procedure date and time.

  • For patients who will be go home on the day of the procedure (ambulatory patients): You should have nothing to eat or drink after midnight the evening prior to your procedure except sips of water with your medications.

  • For patients who will admitted to the hospital after the procedure: Prior to coming to the hospital on the day of your procedure, you may have a light breakfast (i.e., juice and toast/muffin) before 8:00 AM with your morning medications.

  • For all questions regarding medications, please contact your referring physician. If you have ever had a serious allergic reaction, bleeding and/or clotting problems, please telephone us at 212-746-4644.

  • You should report to F-439 reception area at the time scheduled. The reception room is in the F-corridor at 525 East 68th Street, 4th Floor, which can be reached from the "K" elevators. The Hospital will provide discounts for parking, which can obtained at the main entrance.

  • Please do not bring valuables with you to the Hospital.

  • A waiting area is conveniently located on F-439 for relatives and friends that may wish to accompany you to the hospital on the day of your procedure. However, due to space limitations, we must request that there be no more than two visitors per patient.

  • We regret that we are unable to give you an exact start and finish time for your procedure as the length of each procedure varies from patient to patient. For ambulatory patients, it is anticipated that discharge will be between 3:00 and 5:00 PM.

During the Procedure

  • One of our nurses will take you to a pre-procedure room. A physician or nurse practitioner will discuss the procedure with you and will review your medical history.

  • You will be asked to sign a consent form.

  • After you change into a hospital gown, an intravenous line (IV) will be placed in your forearm. A blood pressure monitor will be placed on your arm, and ECG stickers will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart rhythm.

  • You will be moved to the procedure room, known as the "cardiac catheterization laboratory."

  • During the procedure, you will receive a local anesthetic before the catheter is introduced into your artery or vein. This catheter is usually introduced through an artery or vein in your groin.

  • A physician will insert the catheter to the heart, and contrast dye will be injected. You may feel a warm or flushed sensation in your body when this dye is injected.

  • You may feel chest pain during some part of this procedure.

After the Procedure

  • You will be transferred to a post-procedure room for monitoring.

  • At this time, the tube in your artery and/or vein may be removed. A physician or nurse will apply pressure to this site to prevent bleeding. For some patients who have an angioplasty or stent, the tube will be removed later in the hospital.

  • For patients admitted to the hospital, you will be transferred to an inpatient unit for post-procedure care.

  • For ambulatory patients
    • Please be sure that someone will accompany you home following your procedure. We also request that you make the arrangements for a ride home prior to the day of your procedure. Public transportation is strongly discouraged.

    • We are unable to give you an exact discharge time before the day of the procedure. It is anticipated that discharge will be between 3:00 and 5:00 PM.

    • You should return home and rest for the remainder of the day and evening. You do not have to maintain bedrest but you should not be very active.

    • Driving should be avoided for 24 hours after your procedure.

    • Do not shower within the first 24 hours after the procedure. Wash the site gently with soap and water. Rinse well and pat dry. No tub baths for the next 5 days (including whirlpool, spas and swimming).

    • The transparent dressing over the affected groin site should be removed 24 hours after discharge from the hospital.

    • Drink plenty of fluids for 2-3 days after the test. This will help your kidneys "flush" the dye from your body.

  • For all patients
    • Continue taking your medications as prescribed.

    • If you take Metformin (Glucophage), do not restart it until 48 hours after the procedure.

    • If you take Warfarin (Coumadin), consult your physician to determine when to resume.

    • Exercise/Activity Restrictions: Avoid heavy lifting (anything over 10 pounds), excessive bending, and strenuous exercise for five days.

  • Contact your primary cardiologist to arrange a follow-up visit.

  • If you have a stent in place, advise your health care providers that you have a stent. Do not undergo an MRI for 6 weeks unless it is an emergency.

  • Symptoms to report. If you notice or experience any of the following, you should notify the doctor on call for the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory by calling (212) 746-4644. Someone will be able to answer your call at any time. The likelihood of such events is minimal, but it is important that you know what to look for:
    • Any change in the site where the procedure was performed such as bleeding or an increased area of bruising or swelling. (It is common to have some discoloration, such as a black and blue mark at the site where the procedure was performed.) If bleeding occurs apply pressure to the site, lie flat, and notify your doctor.
    • Any tingling, numbness, pain or coolness in the leg/arm beyond the site where the procedure was performed.
    • Any signs of infection (i.e., Temperature greater than 100F, drainage/warmth/redness in the leg/arm area where the procedure was performed.)
    • Difficulty urinating.
    • For any sudden and severe chest pain, shortness of breath and/or changes in mental status, you should notify 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately.


Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory
Telephone: (212) 746-4644
Fax: (212) 746-8295
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New York-Presbyterian. The University Hospitals of Columbia and Cornell