Penn Heart and Vascular

Diagnostic Cardiac Procedures at the Interventional Cardiology Program

What to Expect Diagnostic Cardiac Procedures

This information will provide you with an overview of what to expect before, during and after your diagnostic cardiac procedure. It should serve only as a guide, as treatment will vary for each patient. A nurse will review specific instructions with you before your procedure.

The Night Before Your Procedure

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your procedure, except sips of water with medication.

The evening before your procedure, a member of our staff will contact you at home to review pre-procedure preparation. It is critical that you follow all instructions to ensure accurate test results.

You will be asked the following questions, some of which may be repetitive, but help to ensure your safety:

  • What medications are you taking? If not known, be sure to bring all of them with you to the hospital.
  • When and where was your most recent catheterization? We will pull the records if performed at either the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center or Pennsylvania Hospital.
  • Do you have any allergies, particularly to contrast media, latex or shellfish? This includes contrast dyes used in various X-rays.
  • Have you had a blood test? If so, when and where? You may be asked to bring a copy of the blood test with you.
The Day of Your Procedure
Before Your Procedure
  • Upon arrival to the cardiac outpatient unit, it may be necessary to repeat your blood work prior to your procedure.
  • An intravenous (IV) line will be placed.
  • Medication to relax you may be ordered upon your arrival to the catheterization laboratory.
  • There are no restrictions on activity unless otherwise instructed.
During Your Procedure
  • Your procedure will be performed in the catheterization laboratory and a staff member will be with you throughout the procedure.
  • A blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm and EKG patches on your skin to monitor your heartbeat.
  • An oxygen sensor will be placed on your finger to monitor you for sedation.
  • Your groin or arm area will be prepped and cleansed with an antibacterial agent.
  • You will be covered from chin to toe with a sterile blanket.
  • Your doctor will insert a catheter (small tube) into your groin or arm, and contrast dye will be injected through the catheter to visualize your heart arteries.
  • The procedure will last 30 to 45 minutes.
  • IV fluids and sedation medication will be administered.
  • You will be required to lie still during the procedure.
  • Report any discomfort to your nurse. At the end of your procedure, your doctor will discuss the results with you.
Before You Leave the Hospital
  • A nurse will review prescribed medications and discharge instructions with you.
  • IV fluids will be removed.
  • Discharge medication may be prescribed by your doctor as needed.
  • You will be given plenty of water to drink.
  • You will be able to leave the hospital after receiving discharge instructions, however, you must arrange for someone to drive you home. To allow the insertion site time to heal, do not drive, push, pull, or lift anything for 48 hours.
  • You must wait 24 hours before showering and removing the dressing. If the site begins to bleed, lie down and apply manual pressure immediately; if bleeding does not stop in five minutes, go to the nearest emergency room. If continuous numbness and/or tingling occur in your leg, notify your doctor immediately.

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