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Cardiac Catheterization

How It Is Done continued...

A child who has had cardiac catheterization may need to be held by a parent for several hours after the test to prevent the child from moving his or her leg.

You should drink plenty of liquids for several hours after the test. This will prevent dehydration and help flush the contrast material out of your body.

Depending on the results of the test, you may be sent home either after a short observation period (such as 6 hours) or on the next day. If any stitches were placed in your arm, they may be removed in 5 to 7 days. Do not do strenuous exercise and do not lift anything heavy until your doctor says it is okay. This may be for a day or two.

If you are breast-feeding and had an angiogram in which dye was injected into your body, do not breast-feed your baby for 2 days after this test. During this time, you can give your baby breast milk you stored before the test, or you can give formula. Discard the breast milk you pump for 2 days after the test.

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 heart.

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.

The 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 or cramping.

After you go home

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 test.

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 immediately if:

  • Your arm or leg becomes pale, cold, painful, or numb.
  • Redness, swelling, or discharge from the catheter insertion site develops.
  • You have a fever.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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