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Preparing for Your Catheterization Procedure

Interventional cardiologists at NYU Langone’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory perform a variety of catheter-based diagnostic and therapeutic treatments, including coronary artery stenting and coronary angioplasty.

Cardiologists Dr. Craig Thompson and Dr. Michael Attubato

Interventional cardiologists Dr. Craig A. Thompson and Dr. Michael J. Attubato review a patient's heart images before a procedure.

Cardiac catheterization takes place at Tisch Hospital, Kimmel Pavilion, and NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn. An angiogram, in which a catheter is used to look for blocked blood vessels, is the most common procedure we perform. We use the imaging results from the angiogram to diagnose blockages in the heart as well as in the legs and neck.

If a blockage is found, your doctor might use angioplasty or a stent to open up your artery. Angioplasty and stenting are catheter-based treatments. A long, thin, hollow tube is guided through an artery or vein to the procedure site. The location of the incision depends on the type of procedure you are having. In most cases, you are awake for the procedure and can go home the same day.

Here is what you need to know before, during, and after the procedure.

Preparing for the Catheterization Procedure

You should expect a phone call the day before the procedure from a physician assistant or nurse practitioner who tells you what to expect the day of your visit, including what time to arrive. Someone must be available to take you home after the procedure, so please arrange for a family member or friend to pick you up.

Talk with your doctor about whether you should take your medications in the morning, especially if you are taking blood thinners, anti-clotting medicines, or you have diabetes. Otherwise, do not eat or drink anything in the morning unless your doctor or nurse tells you to do so.

Please bring the following items with you:

  • all medications in their bottles or a list of all medications with dosages
  • insurance card(s)
  • photo identification such as a driver’s license or state identification card

It is best to leave all valuables, including money and jewelry, at home.

Please tell the admitting nurse if you have kidney disease, any allergies to medications, or an allergy to or have had a reaction to intravenous (IV) dye.

During the Catheterization Procedure

During the procedure, your family or loved ones are asked to stay in the waiting area. When you arrive in the catheterization lab, the nurse may perform a blood test or take you for a chest X-ray. An IV line is placed to deliver any necessary medicine during the procedure. A mild anesthetic is used on the site where the catheter is to be inserted. The procedure should be pain-free.

After Your Catheterization Procedure

The doctor speaks with a family member in the waiting area as soon as the catheterization procedure is over. If you want your doctor to speak with someone else, please let the staff know when you first arrive.

After the procedure, you stay in our recovery area for two to eight hours before being discharged. The incision site is bandaged, and you are asked to rest and lie still until a member of your medical teams says you are ready to leave.

We encourage you and your loved ones to bring reading materials or other activities to keep you busy while you wait. Most people go home the same day, but some procedures require that you be monitored in the hospital overnight.

When you are ready to leave, you are given instructions about your medication. This may include new prescriptions that your doctor has given you.

You are advised not to lift heavy objects or participate in strenuous activity for two weeks. You can shower the day after the procedure, but please wait one week before taking a bath. You are also told when to follow up with your doctor.