The primary cause of death in the United States among adult men and women is heart disease. As a result, there have been a number of diagnostic procedures and medical tests created in order to keep people from suffering severe or deadly heart attacks. One tool that is commonly used for diagnoses is a cath, or a cardiac catheterization. This diagnostic procedure can also be used as a jump start for the deployment of several other treatments, repairs, or diagnostic tests and procedures.
There are a number of situations that may indicate the need for a cardiac catheterization. Some common situations where caths may be performed include the collection of blood samples and biopsies of the heart muscle. Caths may also be used to measure the flow and pressure of blood in the arteries and the heart as well as to measure oxygen levels in the blood.
Cardiac catheterizations may also be used when atherectomy and angioplasty procedures are performed so stents may be inserted into arteries and blocked arteries may be opened.
In most cases, a cardiac catheterization will be performed in a hospital setting. However, the procedure will generally be performed as an outpatient surgery. Most cardiac caths can be completed in around an hour, but the time necessary for recovery and preparations will mean most of the day will be taken up by supporting procedures. There are at least five steps in the procedure.
First, the patient is given a weak anesthetic to reduce pain in the area surrounding the procedure. The neck, arm, or groin is frequently chosen as a site for the insertion of an intravenous tube into an artery or vein. A catheter is then threaded through the tube toward the heart, where the physician injects a contrasting dye. The affected areas are then photographed via X-rays. If there is a need for treatment to occur immediately after the procedure, this may follow. An example of treatment that may follow if needed include angioplasty.
There is a certain assumption of risk present in any kind of invasive surgical operation. However, modern techniques of surgical training, hygiene, and technological equipment have combined to make the procedure of cardiac catheterization a relatively straightforward and typically safe surgical procedure. The statistical risks of complications nationwide are 4 per 100 surgeries while the rate of mortality is 2 deaths per 1,000 procedures. Examples of the most common potential complications are described below.
Some people experience bleeding or infections, while others may experience allergic reactions to the contrast dye injected. Damage to the blood vessels, low blood pressure, heart attacks, kidney damage, arrhythmia and death may also occur.
While medical professionals such as surgeons receive a high degree of training, they are not perfect and can make errors. Some of these errors may be classified as medical malpractice, such as when physicians do not use sterile instruments during the procedure or do not properly administer medications before or after surgery.
Those who are unsure of whether injuries sustained following a cardiac catheterization were the result of medical malpractice are encouraged to seek the advice of an experienced malpractice attorney in their area.
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