Right Heart Catheterization
What is a right heart catheterization?
In a right heart catheterization, a doctor will place a catheter (a thin plastic tube) into one of the
larger veins in either your neck (right or left side), arm (inside elbow) or leg (right or left groin
area). The procedure lasts about 30 minutes. It is done in the UW Hospital Heart and Vascular
Care Procedure Center in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab. The procedure takes about 30
minutes. You will be asked to take off your street clothes and put on a hospital gown. Then you
will lie on an x-ray table. X-ray equipment is used to help the doctor place the catheter in the
proper place in your body. A nurse will clean the area over your procedure site. The nurse will
cover the rest of your body with sterile drapes. Medicines will be given through an IV to help
you relax. The doctor will numb the skin with a local anesthetic. When this is done you may
feel pressure at the site, but should not feel sharp pain. The doctor will then insert the catheter
into your neck, arm, or groin vein.
You will not feel any of this during the procedure. A number of blood pressure and blood
flow measurements are then taken in different places in your heart and lungs. Drugs may
be given, either by IV or by inhalation, and you may be asked to exercise by using a small arm or
leg exercise machine. This is followed by more measurements to assess your body’s response to
the drugs or exercise. When all of these measurements are complete, the catheter is
removed. A bandage will be placed over the site. You will then return to your hospital
Why is this procedure done?
This study may be done for many reasons, including to:
Measure the amount of fluid in your blood vessels.
Measure the pressures in your heart and lungs.
Learn how well your heart or lungs are working.
Help your doctors decide which drugs would be best for you.
This study is done on patients with heart failure and many other heart or lung conditions. It is
Patients being evaluated for heart or lung transplant.
Patients on the waiting list for a heart or lung transplant.
Patients having a heart biopsy after their heart transplant.
Patients with high blood pressure in the lungs.
Patients who are short of breath for unknown reasons.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 8/2016. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6389.
Prior To Your Procedure
A procedure nurse will call you a few days prior to your procedure to provide your pre-procedure
patient instructions and procedure information. General instructions include:
ξ Showering the evening before or morning of your procedure
ξ Nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before your procedure.
ξ Making arrangements for a driver to take you home
ξ Bringing all of your medicines with you in their original bottles, including any inhalers or
over the counter medicines / supplements.
ξ Bringing your CPAP or BIPAP machine with hoses and mask if you use a machine at
night to sleep.
You will also be instructed about what pills to take the morning of your procedure with a few
sips of water. Your nurse coordinator will talk about all of this with you.
On The Day of Your Right Heart Catheterization Procedure:
The doctor or nurse will go over the test with you. They will:
Explain why you are having the test.
Tell you about the risks involved.
Discuss what vein the doctor will plan to use for the test.
Explain if there are other options to the test.
Answer any questions that you may have.
You will be asked to sign a consent form. Signing this form gives the doctor permission to do
the procedure on you. Be sure to ask any questions before signing the form.
Friends and family will be shown to a waiting area while you are in the test. They will rejoin
you after the test is done.
After your Procedure:
Remove your bandage 24 hours after your procedure and shower by letting soap and
water flow over your procedure site. Do not rub your procedure site excessively when
you dry off. Do not put any lotions, powders, or perfumes / colognes on the procedure
site. Our goal is for your procedure site to be clean and dry while it heals.
ξ Take your usual medicines and return to your normal diet unless told not to by your
Avoid strenuous activity for the rest of the day.
If you bleed at the site, hold firm pressure on the area for a few minutes with a piece of
dry gauze without letting go and call the UW Heart Failure/Transplant Office right away if
your bleeding does not stop after constant pressure is held for a few minutes, or if you
notice shortness of breath, pain, or other symptoms you did not have before your