What is a Cath Procedure?

A Cardiac Catheterization is a procedure done before a heart surgery.

A pediatric patient is given an anesthesia to put them to sleep where it is common for adult patients to do the procedure with only a local anesthetic.  The nurses will either make an incision or will insert a large hollow needle that will allow a very small tube through into a vein.  This tube is usually placed in the groin, arm, or neck.  Then the tube is threaded up to the heart.  From there, the doctors can put it into different places in the heart, as needed.

When the tube is in the heart the doctor will use it to measure pressures and flows that are unique to different places in the heart.  At this point, if necessary, blood samples and tissue samples could be taken directly from the heart, but I am pretty sure they did not do that during my son’s cath procedure.  Also, the doctors can inject a dye into the blood stream that will then swirl around with the blood flow and show how the blood interacts in different areas of the heart.

With all this information it then becomes easier for a doctor to decide just what is required to repair the heart and what condition the heart is in.  When the doctor came to discuss my son’s cath procedure with me he showed me an xray image of his chest while the dye was in his veins.  It was very interesting to see and a copy of all the images taken during a cath procedure should be available upon request in anyone’s files, especially a minor’s.

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