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Catheter Procedures

What
is a catheter procedure?

A catheter procedure can be a diagnostic tool as well as a
form of treatment for certain types of heart disease. Some types of heart
disease stem from abnormalities in the heart’s structure. They may not be
apparent immediately. Catheter procedures give surgeons an in-depth look at the
arteries leading to the heart. They also allow them to correct structural
problems that lead to irregular heartbeats, fatigue, and other potentially
life-threatening symptoms.

What
are the types of catheter procedures?

Cardiac catheterization

Cardiac catheterization, also known as a heart catheterization,
is a medical procedure that provides extremely detailed pictures of your coronary
arteries. It allows your doctor to determine the type of illness or defect you
have and, in some cases, to treat the problem.

A catheter is a thin, flexible tube. Your doctor inserts it into
a blood vessel and guides it toward your heart. They’ll usually use a vessel in
your groin, neck, or arm. They may insert dye into the catheter to help make
the blood vessels and arteries more visible.

Cardiac catheterization measures your blood pressure, blood
flow to the heart, and the level of oxygen in your blood. Your doctor may take
blood samples and a biopsy of your heart muscle during the procedure.

Catheter ablation

Catheter ablation is a procedure that your doctor can
perform to treat some kinds of heart arrhythmias, which are also known as irregular
heartbeats or dysrhythmias. You may be a candidate for catheter ablation if
medications don’t control your arrhythmia. Other reasons for catheter ablation
include:

  • ventricular
    fibrillation, which is irregular electrical activity in your heart that
    leads to life-threatening cardiac arrest
  • ventricular
    tachycardia, which is a life-threatening rapid heartbeat that
    reduces the blood flow to your body
  • atrial
    fibrillation, or flutter, which is a rapid, flutter-like heartbeat due
    to extra electrical impulses
  • an accessory pathway, which is a congenital condition
    in which additional pathways exist between the heart’s atria and ventricles,
    causing an irregular beating pattern

What
happens during a catheter procedure?

Doctors can also perform other tests or procedures during a
cardiac catheterization. For example, they can correct certain congenital heart
defects, such as pulmonary valve stenosis. Pulmonary valve stenosis is a
condition in which valves don’t open as widely as they should. This prevents
adequate blood flow to the heart. A tiny, balloon-like device attaches to the
end of the catheter and inflates in the narrowed section near the affected
heart valve. The balloon pushes the leaflets open to correct the stenosis. Your
doctor then removes the balloon along with the catheter.

Your doctor can also use cardiac catheterization to treat
septal defects. These are holes between the atria, or sides, of your heart. In
this case, the catheter carries a patch like an umbrella and places the device
across the hole in the septum.

The initial steps of a catheter ablation are similar to that
of cardiac catheterization. Your doctor will sedate you and thread a catheter
through a vein. They’ll then channel high levels of energy to the heart via the
catheter. The catheter delivers the energy to the area of your heart that
causes your specific type of arrhythmia. This destroys a very small area that’s
causing the extra impulses and rapid heartbeats. This area is about 1/5 of an
inch. The procedure resets your heart to a normal beating rhythm.

Although you’re awake during the catheterization process,
you’ll receive sedative medications to keep you comfortable. The medication enters
your system through the IV that houses the catheter, so the procedure is
minimally invasive.

What
are the risks associated with a catheter procedure?

Heart catheter procedures occur in a hospital setting, most
commonly as outpatient procedures. Preparation includes fasting for at least
eight hours before catheterization. Risks are uncommon but may include:

  • an accumulation of fluid between your heart and
    its outer covering
  • low blood pressure readings
  • an allergic reaction to the contrast dye
  • blood clots
  • excessive bleeding
  • a heart attack
  • a stroke
  • an irregular heartbeat

What
happens after a catheter procedure?

The recovery time after a cardiac catheterization is brief.
You may need to lie flat on your back for a few hours after the procedure. This
is a precautionary measure against bleeding. Residual soreness in the insertion
area is possible.

Catheter ablation is a very safe and highly effective
procedure. It may take up to eight hours to complete. During this time, staff
will monitor your vital signs constantly. During recovery, you’ll lie in bed
without moving your legs to prevent bleeding. You may experience unusual
fatigue for the first couple of days after catheter ablation. Your heart may
occasionally skip a beat or feel fluttery. As you heal, this irregularity will
correct itself.

What
is the takeaway?

Doctors use heart catheter procedures to diagnose and treat
a variety of conditions, including congenital defects and irregular heartbeats.
They give your doctor the ability to take an in-depth look at the structure of
your heart. The risks are uncommon, and recovery time is fairly brief. 

Posted by: Dr.Health

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