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What happens after cardiac catheterization?

After cardiac catheterization:
  • You'll be moved to a recovery unit. You may need to lie flat for up to four to eight hours.
  • The insertion site may be held under pressure to prevent bleeding.
  • In case you have temporary numbness or weakness in your leg, special steps will be taken to make sure you're safe when you first get up. If you need to urinate and your leg is numb, it may not be safe to walk to the bathroom. You will use a urinal or bedpan instead.
  • In the first few hours, you may want to drink plenty of fluids to flush the contrast dye out of your body.
After cardiac catheterization, a procedure performed to further diagnose coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, congestive heart failure, and/or certain congenital (present at birth) heart conditions, you may be taken to the recovery room for observation or returned to your hospital room. You will remain flat in bed for several hours after the procedure. A nurse will monitor your vital signs, the insertion site, and circulation/sensation in the affected leg or arm.

You should immediately inform your nurse if you feel any chest pain or tightness, or any other pain, as well as any feelings of warmth, bleeding, or pain at the insertion site in your leg or arm.

Bed rest may vary from two to six hours depending on your specific condition. If your physician placed a closure device, your bed rest may be of shorter duration.

In some cases, the sheath or introducer may be left in the insertion site. If so, the period of bed rest will be prolonged until the sheath is removed. After the sheath is removed, you may be given a light meal.

You may feel the urge to urinate frequently because of the effects of the contrast dye and increased fluids. You will need to use a bedpan or urinal while on bed rest so that your affected leg or arm will not be bent.

After the specified period of bed rest has been completed, you may get out of bed. The nurse will assist you the first time you get up, and will check your blood pressure while you are lying in bed, sitting, and standing. You should move slowly when getting up from the bed to avoid any dizziness from the long period of bed rest.

You may be given pain medication for pain or discomfort related to the insertion site or having to lie flat and still for a prolonged period.

You will be encouraged to drink water and other fluids to help flush the contrast dye from your body.

You may resume your usual diet after the procedure, unless your physician decides otherwise.

When you have completed the recovery period, you may be discharged to your home unless your physician decides otherwise. If this procedure was performed on an outpatient basis, you must have another person drive you home.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.