Right heart catheterization is a procedure that is performed in the catheterization lab. It is usually done to help diagnose cardiac valve issues and abnormal pressures in the right heart and lungs.

What is a right heart catheterization?

A right heart catherization involves threading a catheter from a vein in the groin up to the heart. The catheter passes through the right side of the heart and up to the pulmonary artery so that blood pressures can be measured and blood samples obtained in order to calculate cardiac output (how much blood your heart pumps per minute).

When a right heart catherization is done, a left heart catherization is almost always done as well, although the reverse is not always true.

Who needs a right heart catheterization?

There are a variety of reasons you might need a right heart catherization. It is often used to assess the following heart conditions:

How can I prepare for a right heart catheterization?

You will be contacted by the triage coordinator by telephone with a date and time for your procedure. They will provide basic instructions at that time.

You will then receive written instructions from your cardiologist in the mail. This will include instructions for any change in medications and dietary restrictions prior to your procedure.

In addition, Fraser Health has put together a guide to preparing for a cardiac catheterization. The most important points to remember are:

  • Have a responsible person available to pick you up and take you home following the procedure
  • Arrange that someone will stay with you overnight for the first night at home
  • Do not drive for 24 hours after your procedure
  • Bring your prescription medications (in the original bottles) with you to the hospital

Download our Having a Heart Catheterization and Possible Treatment Booklet for information on how to prepare for your procedure.