Update 01042013 Joseph’s heart catheterization

This late afternoon on January 4th, 2013 we heard from Dr. Womack my cardiologist to fill my parents in on my upcoming heart catheterization this January 8th, 2013.  A surprising note is this upcoming surgery is exactly 1 year from my 1st open heart surgery.  This diagnostic procedure is a lot safer than open heart surgery but does not come totally free from possible complications.

heartcathHe spoke with them and cleared up a lot of questions and wonderment they had.  I guess, it is my understanding, we are going to use this as a diagnostic test and if, after he sees what is going on, he feels as if he can fix it here locally we will do so, otherwise, the surgical test was not done in vain, per say, but we are that much more knowledgeable of what is going on with me.

Dr. Womack, as my parents is surprised that I have outgrown my conduit so quickly.  My parents and Dr. Womack are also in agreement that if something else could be done to extend the original conduit and delay another open heart surgery, I would be the better for it.

He will be putting in a dye to watch the blood flow into the heart as well as the flow through the heart and going out.  This will allow him also to measure pressure, to see the walls of the arteries and chambers of the heart along with the heart valves and how well they are operating.  Depending on what he finds, he may be able to have a remedy to lengthen the time or possibly may need more specialized attention.  It all depends on what he see’s.  So let’s pray the Lord will open his eyes and see’s a complete fix.

A little information about heart catheterization

Why perform a catheterization?

Heart cath helps cardiologists gain information needed to fully evaluate a condition and recommend treatment for your child. It is a test that shows how the heart chambers, valves, and vessels are formed, and how they are functioning. A cath also provides cardiologists with information about specific areas of the heart and lungs. For patients who need surgery, a cath provides surgeons detailed information not available through other testing, such as the precise location of abnormalities and the specific structure of your child’s heart. A heart cath may also be used therapeutically, to treat a condition or to correct a problem.

What is cardiac catheterization?

Caths are performed in a specially equipped cath lab by a cardiologist with the help of a trained team of nurses and technicians. It is similar to a surgical procedure, although there are no incisions or stitches. To prevent infection, the staff wears sterile gowns, hats, and masks and the patient is covered with a sterile drape. The patient is sedated and a local anesthetic is used to numb the groin area. This injection is the only discomfort your child should experience during the procedure. The anesthetic is similar to Novocaine–used by your dentist. A thin, flexible tube, known as a catheter, is then inserted into a vein and sometimes an artery, usually in the groin.

Once the catheter is in the blood vessel, the cardiologist uses a fluoroscope (similar to an X-ray machine) to guide the catheter into the different areas of the heart. The movement of the catheter within the heart is not painful or uncomfortable. While the catheter is in the heart, several procedures are performed:

  • Blood pressures in different heart chambers and blood vessels are recorded.
  • Oxygen content of the blood in each heart chamber is evaluated.
  • Radioactive Dye is injected through the catheter.
  • Angiograms (x-ray movies of the dye’s movement) are filmed so that the details of the cardiac problem are recorded.

The cath lasts from 45 mins to several hours. Afterwards, the only outward sign of the procedure will be a pressure bandage applied to the cath insertion site. Before your child is discharged, the cardiologist will review the preliminary findings with you.

Nothing more to say as of now.  My parents are better educated on what to expect, still a bit uneasy of the unknown as I suspect many parents would be and yet hopeful all will go well.

I’ll let you know what they find on the 8th of this month and the outcome of this very important surgical diagnostic test.

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