How It Feels
You will feel a sharp sting when the
local anesthetic is injected to numb your skin over the catheter insertion
site. When the catheter is inserted, you may feel a brief, sharp pain. The
movement of the catheter through your blood vessel may cause a feeling of
pressure, but it is not usually considered painful. People commonly experience
skipped heartbeats for a few seconds when the catheter touches the walls of the
If a dye (contrast material) is injected, you may feel warm
and flushed and have a metallic taste in your mouth. Some people feel sick to
their stomach or have a headache. You also may feel nauseous or lightheaded,
have chest pain, irregular heartbeats, an urge to cough, mild itching, or
hives from the contrast material. If you have any of
these symptoms, tell your doctor how you are feeling.
temperature in the catheterization lab is kept cool so that the equipment does
not overheat. For many people, the hardest part of the test is having
to lie still for an hour or more on the hard table. You may feel some stiffness
Call your doctor immediately if you have chest pain,
extreme shortness of breath, dizziness, trouble speaking or swallowing, or
paralysis in any part of your body during or after the
You may experience some soreness and bruising at the
insertion site. This is temporary and should disappear within 2 weeks. It is
normal for the site to feel tender for about a week. Call your doctor
- Your arm or leg becomes pale, cold, painful, or
- Redness, swelling, or discharge from the catheter insertion
- You have a fever.
Complications related to the catheter include:
- Pain, swelling, and tenderness at the catheter
- Irritation of the vein by the catheter (superficial
thrombophlebitis). This can usually be treated with warm
- Bleeding at the catheter site.
- A bruise
where the catheter was inserted. This usually goes away in a few
- Trouble urinating after the procedure.
Serious complications are
rare, but they can be life-threatening. Serious complications are more likely
to occur in people who are critically ill or elderly. These complications may
- Sudden closure of the coronary artery.
tear in the inner lining of the artery.
- Allergic reaction to the contrast material, with hives
and itching and, rarely, shortness of breath, fever, and
shock. These allergic reactions can usually be
controlled with medicines.
- Kidney damage. In rare cases, the
contrast material can damage the kidneys, possibly causing
kidney failure. People with diabetes and kidney
disease are at greatest risk for kidney damage.
- Heart attack or stroke.
- Need for more procedures or surgery for complications.
Radiation risk. There is always a slight risk of damage to cells or tissues
from being exposed to any radiation, including the low levels of X-ray used for
this test. But the risk of damage from the X-rays is usually very low
compared with the potential benefits of the test.