We care about your heart

At NMC Health, we care about matters of the heart. We offer expert cardiac care and testing for when you’re having chest pains or shortness of breath.

If something feels “off” about your heart, your doctor might want to check for heart disease. One of the tests that can give your doctor a good idea about how your heart muscle is working happens in the NMC Health Cardiac Cath Lab. It’s called a cardiac catheterization.

Here, our expert heart care staff can see how well your heart is working and if there are any blockages in your arteries.

If you have a medical emergency, call 911 or visit the NMC Health Medical Center Emergency Department.

Types of Procedures
NMC Health specializes in all kinds of cardiac care procedures in its on-site cardiac catheterization lab including:

Your doctor may determine your heart is not beating in a correct rhythm. This can sometimes be corrected with a cardioversion. Cardioversion is a procedure in which electric shocks are sent to your heart through electrodes placed on your chest.

A small tube (catheter) is threaded through your groin or arm. Contrast dye is injected through the catheter under live X-ray imaging (fluoroscopy) to look for blockages in the coronary arteries. 

We are also able to see how well your heart muscle is pumping. Your doctor will determine whether an intervention (stent placement) is necessary during this procedure. Sometimes, iFR or IVUS will be performed during a cardiac catheterization.

With iFR, a special wire is threaded through the coronary artery. This test gives a pressure reading across a suspicious blockage to determine if it is limiting flow to the heart muscle. It helps the doctor decide if ballooning (angioplasty) or a stent is required.

A miniature sound-probe (transducer) is positioned on the tip of a coronary catheter. The catheter is threaded through a coronary arty and, using high-frequency sound waves, produces detailed images of the inside walls of the artery. IVUS produces an accurate picture of the location and extent of plaque. 

A small device will be inserted through a vein in your groin and implanted into your heart to control the rhythm of one of your heart chambers.

An incision will be made into the upper chest (typically on the left side). A battery is placed under your skin in the upper chest. This battery is connected to leads (wires) that are placed inside one or more of your heart chambers to help make sure your heart is beating at a normal rate and rhythm.

A small tube (catheter) is threaded through your groin or arm to check for blockages in your leg, arm, kidney or neck arteries. Ballooning (angioplasty) or stenting can be performed if necessary.

A small tube that opens up a blood vessel when it’s narrow or blocked.

Your Cardiac Care Team

You’ll meet several different members of our medical staff on your cardiac care team. They include:

  • A Registered Nurse (RN) who will give you sedation medicine to keep you comfortable during your test. They will also monitor your vitals during the procedure.
  • A Licensed Radiologic Technologist (LRT) who is specialized to assist doctors during cath lab procedures.  They have extensive knowledge of the X-ray machine, catheters, wires and contrast (dye) used during these tests. 
  • Your cardiologist, who is the doctor in charge of doing the procedure.
  • Monitor (either an RN or LRT) who is responsible for monitoring vitals and charting everything that happens during the procedure.

FAQs

There is no incision made during cardiac or peripheral catheterization. A small puncture (similar to the size of an IV) allows the doctor to perform these procedures.

Do not eat or drink anything for eight hours before your procedure. Your doctor will give you instructions if you need to stop taking any medicines before your test. Please make sure to bring a current list of medicines you are taking, including any over-the-counter medicines and vitamins. 

It’s recommended that you have someone available to drive you home after the procedure. Pack any necessities just in case your results how you need to stay in the hospital overnight. 

When you arrive at NMC Health, check in with the admission desk. After you’re registered, you will be sent to a hospital room. Your nurse will prepare you for the procedure by getting your medical history and a list of your current medicines. Labs will be drawn and an EKG obtained before you go to the cath lab.

When your doctor is ready, a cath lab team member will take you to the procedure area. We recommend you have a family member or support person come with you at this time. They will wait just outside the cath lab and your doctor will go over results with this person after your test.

You will spend about 30 minutes to an hour in the cath lab for your procedure. Your doctor will determine at this time if you need a stent placed. If you have several severe blockages, you may need to be transferred to a larger facility to see a surgeon about having open heart surgery. 

After your procedure, you will be taken back to your hospital room to recover for at least three hours. You might be asked to lie on your back for a period of time if your test was done through your groin. Your nurse will be checking your vitals and access site regularly. You will be allowed to eat and drink after your sedation medicine has worn off.

Once you’re discharged, be sure to follow any directions given to you by the medical staff. Call your doctor immediately if you notice: 

  • Drainage coming from the catheter site
  • Bleeding that does not stop
  • Numbness or tingling in your leg
  • Worsening bruising in the area
  • A cold foot that turns blue

Most cath lab procedures take between 30 minutes and one hour.

Patient comfort is our greatest priority at NMC Health. While the procedure itself is essentially pain-free, there might be some temporary discomfort at first when the numbing agent is given, before the catheter is inserted. Let our medical staff know if you’re in any pain.