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Right Heart Catheterization

What is right heart catheterization?

Right heart catheterization (also known as pulmonary artery catheterization or Swan-Ganz catheterization) is a diagnostic heart procedure used to evaluate blood flow and blood pressure. At Phoenix Heart Center, right heart catheterization may be performed through the radial artery on the wrist. This approach is unique to Phoenix Heart Center and a select few cardiology practices in the United States. Many cardiologists continue to use a traditional approach through the femoral artery in the groin or carotid artery in the neck. Potential benefits of the transradial approach include:

  • Less trauma to the body
  • Better response to pressure
  • Less blood loss
  • Faster recovery
  • Fewer complications

Who needs right heart catheterization?

Patients with the following conditions may undergo right heart catheterization:

There are many reasons why your cardiologist might want to check in on your heart health. Learn more about how the procedure works below.

How is right heart catheterization done?

The procedure may be performed in the ICU or a cath lab. First, you will be given a sedative to relax you. Next, the physician will make a small incision in the skin (above the femoral artery in the leg or radial artery in the wrist) through which the catheter is inserted. A catheter is a small, flexible tube through which the monitoring device is passed.

Using advanced imaging tools for guidance, the physician maneuvers the catheter through the arteries until arriving at the pulmonary artery on the right side of the heart. Once in place, the physician can record and observe blood flow and blood pressure in different chambers of the heart, the lungs, and the pulmonary artery.

Medication may be introduced intravenously to dilate the blood vessels and lower blood pressure. With the pulmonary artery catheter still in place, the cardiologist can observe how the heart responds to these medications.

What do the test results mean?

During this procedure, your cardiologist may record the following data:

  • Cardiac index (a measurement of heart performance in relation to body size)
  • Pulmonary artery systolic and mean pressures
  • Pulmonary diastolic pressure
  • Pulmonary capillary wedge pressure
  • Right atrial pressure

Abnormal results could indicate blood flow problems, heart failure, shock, lung disease, heart valve disease, or structural problems of the heart, such as septal defect. Your cardiologist at Phoenix Heart Center will go over your test results with you and develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.

Right Heart Catheterization Recovery

After the procedure is complete, the catheter is removed and pressure is applied to the catheter insertion site to stop bleeding. Once the bleeding is stopped and the insertion site is covered, you may be discharged. Because of the sedative used during the procedure, you will need to have someone drive you home. Follow your physician’s instructions on keeping the insertion site clean and dry. Let your physician’s office know if you experience any increased pain or bleeding at the insertion site, shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, or other symptoms.

Schedule an Appointment With a Cardiologist in Phoenix

To schedule an appointment with a cardiologist in Phoenix, Mesa, or Tempe, AZ, call a Phoenix Heart Center office near you. You can also schedule your appointment online. Phoenix Heart Center offers a full range of cardiology services, leveraging advanced techniques, such as “Radial First” cardiac catheterization, and diagnostic and treatment capabilities.

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