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Cardiac Catheterization


Cardiac catheterization monitors the heart's functioning and reveals the location of any blockages in the coronary arteries. The procedure can help your doctor determine whether you're a candidate for an angioplasty or cardiac surgery such as a bypass or valve repair.

Cardiac Catheterization

This procedure is done in a specialized Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, by board certified cardiologists, cardiac nurse specialists and radiology technologists. With it, the cardiologist can evaluate the heart and arteries at work by watching the movement of a contrast solution flow through your heart's chambers and blood vessels. to see whether the coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked. The purpose of cardiac catheterization is to determine whether you have disease in your coronary arteries, and if so, pinpoint the size and location of plaque that may have built up in your coronary arteries, and is generally done to determine whether you may need bypass surgery or angioplasty. Second, to determine the degree of valvular disease and the need for valve replacement or repair. Third, to evaluate a cause of a weakened heart muscle for medical or surgical treatment.

Pictured in photo above, (l-r): Cardiologists James Waters, MD; Kirk MacNaught, MD and Omar Ali, MD.

The newest procedure room is equipped with state-of-the-art Philips technology with hi-resolution imaging and the Allura Clarity option. Clarity IQ filters out more x-ray radiation; therefore reduces radiation exposure to the patient, physician and staff.

Before Your Appointment

  • Please pre-register for your appointment by calling 978-937-6429 Monday - Friday, 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. or anytime online at  Express Registration .
  • An Appointment Reminder with specific instructions for your exam will be mailed to you.
  • Obtain copies of any recent films from x-ray exams or scans performed at other facilities to bring to the exam.
  • If you've ever suffered an allergic reaction to x-ray dye or iodine or been diagnosed with a bleeding disorder, kidney disease, or a heart murmur, be sure to alert your physician.
  • Women should inform their physicians if there is any chance they are pregnant.
  • Tell you doctor about any medications you are taking.

Exam Preparation

DO NOT eat or drink after midnight before the exam.

During the Procedure

During catheterization, a specially trained cardiologist will insert a catheter — a thin flexible tube — into a puncture site in your leg or arm. The catheter is then carefully threaded through the artery into your heart. A contrast agent (dye) injected into your bloodstream enables an x-ray camera will transmit pictures of your heart and circulatory system to a television monitor, so the doctor can visualize the catheter's placement, as well as the contractions of the heart muscle and any narrowing or blockages in your blood vessels.

The actual procedure usually lasts about an hour. Because the inside of the blood vessels lack pain fibers, patients usually experience very little discomfort once the catheter in place. The injection of the dye may cause a warm sensation. In addition to numbing medicine at the incision site, you may also receive mild sedation to help your relax.

After the Procedure

You will need to rest in bed after the exam for up to six hours. You may need to keep your arm or leg extended for several hours depending on the location of the incision. Although the procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis, some patients may need to be monitored in the hospital for 24 hours.

Warning for Patients Taking Glucophage

Patients with diabetes who are taking Glucophage may be asked to stop taking this medication prior to having the exam. Please ask your cardiologist if you should stop taking Glucophage. If you must stop, remember to check with your cardiologist before you begin taking it again.

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