Preparing for Your Visit

What to expect during a cardiac catheterization

During a catheterization, your cardiologist, along with a specialized team of nurses, physician assistants and cardiovascular technologists, will discover whether the blood vessels in your heart muscle are narrowed or blocked. They will be able to tell how well your heart is pumping, whether your heart valves are working properly and whether you were born with any heart defects. They will also able to detect whether your heart has been damaged by disease.


  • If you are scheduled to have a cardiac catheterization at NSMC Salem Hospital you must submit your medical history online at the secure One Medical Passport web site.
  • The Registration Department may call you at home to perform your registration for the catheterization. If you are registered over the phone, there is no need to arrive early for your exam. Report directly to the Cath Lab on Phippen 5 at your scheduled appointment time.

About the cardiac catheterization procedure

  • You will remain awake during the procedure.
  • If needed, your nurse will give you medications to keep you comfortable.
  • The complete procedure may take one to two hours.
  • You will wear a hospital gown and will have an intravenous needle placed in your arm.
  • Heart electrodes will be placed on your chest and your heart rate will be monitored throughout the procedure.
  • The catheterization site will be cleansed (and/or shaved, as needed).
  • A flexible tube called a catheter will be placed into a blood vessel in your wrist or groin. The catheter will then be guided toward your heart.
  • Dye will be injected into each coronary artery while an x-ray camera takes pictures.
  • The team will view the pictures taken on screens above you to see the inside of your heart.