The procedure may be done as an inpatient or an outpatient but they are mostly performed on an outpatient basis at the hospital. In a right-heart catheterization, your doctor guides a special catheter (a small, hollow tube) to the right side of your heart and measure pressures. They then pass the tube into your pulmonary artery (the main artery that carries blood to your lungs) and measure the pressures there as well. Your doctor observes blood flow through your heart and measures the pressures inside your heart and lungs. They measure how much blood is being pumped by the heart per minute.
At Southeastern Cardiology we offer confrontational exercise testing to properly diagnose potential underlying causes of shortness of breath. We are the only group in the Southeast that performs these on a regular basis. Some patients with pulmonary vascular disease are not symptomatic at rest, but have symptoms with exertion. Likewise, those patients may have normal appearing parameters on echocardiogram under resting conditions. This often times frustrates patients who may have true cardiopulmonary disease but have been told that their symptoms are not legitimate. This observation provides a potential for exercise right heart catheterization to better diagnose early pulmonary vascular disease as well as other forms of heart disease.
In some cases, the pressures in the heart and lungs are normal under resting conditions. In these patients, exercise may be used to bring out the symptoms of shortness of breath or chest discomfort. This exercise may be achieved in one of two ways. A bicycle at the end of the catheterization table allows patients to exercise while measurements are being made. In patients who cannot exercise with their legs arm exercises may be used. This study provides invaluable information as to the potential underlying cause of shortness of breath in patients and may allow for the treatment of this symptom and underlying disease