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What is cardiaccatheterization and when is it done?

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure that consists of insertinga long catheter in a vein or artery either in an arm, leg, neck, or in groin and from there the catheter is lead to the heart all the way through the bloodvessels. The procedure can be used for two reasons, in the treatment of various heartconditions, such as angioplasty, for example, or in order to check thecondition of cardiovascular system and test for a heart disease.

In the first case, there are three procedures that cardiaccatheterization is a part of, and these are: angioplasty, which may also includestent placement (though not necessarily) and which helps in expending andwidening the blocked artery; closure of holes in the heart which arecongenital; and balloon valvuloplasty, when narrowed heart valves have to beopen. In the second case, when heart and other parts of cardiovascular systemhave to be checked, this procedure is used in the following situations:

whenthe blockage or narrowing in blood vessels has to be located,when the amountof oxygen and/or pressure in the heart has to be determined,when congenitalheart defects have to be diagnosed, orwhen a tissue sample has to be taken fromthe heart for the purpose of biopsy.

Whichever the reason, the patient will need several hours torecover from the procedure and from the anesthesia, and he will spend them inthe recovery room and a regular hospital room. The part of the body used for the procedure should not be moved, so that the bleeding would beavoided. Some patients may go home the same day, while others are required tostay for a few days, but it depends on their condition.

Complications ofcardiac catheterization

Having in mind that this procedure involves heart and bloodvessels, there certainly have to be some risks involved, and some complicationsare possible. However, none of the major complications is frequent. Bleeding,infection and bruising of the surgery site are possible complications of every procedure,and so of this one as well.

Complications which are typically possible duringor after cardiac catheterization are stroke, heart attack, arrhythmias orirregular heart rhythms, allergic reactions. It is also possible that the arteryor vein, through which the catheter was inserted, is damaged, or that the tissue ofthe artery or heart is torn during this procedure, but it is important tomention that blood clots can also occur after the procedure. Kidney damage isone of the possible complications as well.

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