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Scottish Adult Congenital Cardiac Service (SACCS)

Cardiac Catheterisation

Cardiac Catheterisation – What to Expect

Your doctor has identified that you may require a minimally invasive procedure called a Cardiac Catheterisation: this is used to get more information about your heart condition and is carried out in our Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratories (Cath Labs).
Interventional procedures, if required, can also be carried out in the Cath Lab. These can include using balloons and stents to open up narrowed veins or arteries, using a device to close a hole in the heart, replacing heart valves and treating irregular heart rhythms.
If you have been scheduled for Cardiac Catheterisation, your doctor should already have discussed the type of procedure you require and provided you with the appropriate information sheet. If you do not have this information, we would advise you to contact your consultant straight away.

What is a Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory (Cath Lab)?

The Cath Lab is a specialised x-ray room where a range of heart conditions can be treated. This is done by carrying out procedures using minimally invasive catheters rather than surgery. Inside the Cath Lab, there is a table you will be asked t lie on, and an x-ray machine which will take pictures of your heart, alongside several screens that allow the team to monitor your heart condition throughout the procedure.

A dedicated team of specialist staff including cardiologists, nurses, physiologists and radiographers will look after you during your treatment at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital.

 What happens before my procedure?

You will be contacted by our Nurse Specialist who will arrange your admission to the Golden Jubilee National Hospital. Many procedures can be performed as day cases, however some require you to attend a pre-assessment clinic before your admission date.

If you have any major events booked or holidays planned, please inform the nurse at the earliest possible opportunity; this will allow us to arrange a procedure time that is suitable for both you and the clinical team.

In preparation for some procedures, you must attend your dentist for a check up. It is very important that you tell your dentist you will be having a heart procedure and that if you require any dental treatment, you inform the nurse: this may affect the timing of your procedure.

You must also let the nurse know if you have had a recent cough, cold or been on a course of antibiotics for infection.

 Arriving at the hospital

When you arrive at the hospital, please report to Hospital Reception and let our staff know that you will be attending the Cath Lab for a Cardiac Catheterisation Procedure.

You will be given directions to the Cardiac Day Unit (CDU) which is located on Level Two.

On admission to the ward, a nurse will show you to your room and give you a gown and pair of paper pants to change in to. The nurse will ask you questions about your medical history, check your blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels and perform some routine blood tests. The nurse will also place a small tube (cannulae) in to a vein in your arm to allow the team to give you any sedation, medication or a drip if required.

Your doctor will discuss the benefits and risks of the procedure and give you the opportunity to ask questions. If you are happy to proceed, you will be asked to sign a consent form.

Please bring all your current medication (in their original containers) with you when you come into the hospital. Continue to take your medication as normal and directed by your doctor unless you have been told otherwise.

Please be advised that relatives will not always be able to stay with you in the ward, but there is a waiting area on the same floor where they are welcome to wait.

 The Catheterisation Procedure

For some heart procedures performed in the Cath Lab, you will be awake, but we can give you some medicine to help you relax. Other procedures are carried out using a general anaesthetic. This will be discussed with you by your doctor or nurse beforehand.

During the procedure you will lie flat on an x-ray table; you do not need to move unless the doctor asks you to move your arms or take a deep breath. A small tube will be placed into the vein or artery (or both) in your leg, arm or neck to allow the doctor to introduce the catheters to perform the procedure. Your doctor will numb the area before the catheter is inserted to ensure you feel as comfortable as possible.

Your doctor will record certain measurements in your heart and lung arteries and may also put some dye into the tube, this will allow x-ray pictures to be taken. An x-ray camera will move around you, taking the pictures. If the doctor wants to take a more detailed picture of a certain area of your heart or lung arteries, they will have to put more dye into the tube. When this picture is being taken, you may feel a warm flush from your head to your toes and may also feel as if you have passed water, but you will not have. This feeling is caused by the dye being passed quickly around your body ; once all of the pictures have been taken and information has been obtained, the doctor may proceed to a heart intervention. All of this will be discussed with you before your procedure and you will be given an information sheet with specific details about the proposed intervention.

 After the procedure

Following your procedure, the tube from your leg, arm or neck will be removed and pressure will be applied to the area to stop any bleeding. You will be taken back to the ward, where you will need to rest, lying flat, for around four hours. The nurses will regularly check your blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels and wound. When you are able to sit up, you will be given something to eat and drink. After resting, you will be encouraged to walk gently to make sure you are well enough to go home.

You may feel very tired and sleepy following your procedure. You will also not be allowed to drive for a period of seven days (this may be shorter for some procedures). Because of this, you will need someone to drive you home from hospital and we advise that someone stays with you overnight, to make sure that you are ok.

You will be given instructions before you leave the ward on what you can and cannot do following your procedure. In general, you should avoid any physical exertion for one week. Most people will resume their normal activities after one or two weeks. You should also be prepared to take a few days off work to allow you to recover from your procedure.

 When do I get the results of my procedure?

Your doctor will discuss the result of the procedure with you, before you leave. They will advise you of any changes to your medication, any further tests that need to be considered and arrange a follow-up appointment. You will also be given a discharge letter to hand in to your GP. This explains what has happened during your admission.

 Who can I contact?

If you have any enquiries or concerns, feel anything isn't clear or you would like more information, you can contact that nursing team of the Scottish Adult Congenital Cardiac Service (SACCS) on 0141 951 5257 or 07795 953070.

Alternatively you can email: saccsnurse@gjnh.scot.nhs.uk

   enquiries@gjnh.scot.nhs.uk        Hospital Switchboard 0141 951 5000