Swan-Ganz catheterization is the passing of a thin tube (catheter) into the right side of the heart and the arteries leading to the lungs to monitor the heart's function and blood flow, usually in persons who are very ill.
Right heart catheterization; Catheterization - right heart
How the test is performed
The test can be done while you are in bed in an intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital or in special procedure areas such as a cardiac catheterization laboratory.
Before the test starts, you may be given a mild sedative to help you relax.
You will lie on a padded table. Your doctor will make a small surgical cut near the groin or in your neck. A flexible tube (catheter, or “sheath”) is placed through the opening, into a vein. Sometimes it will be placed in your arm or wrist. You will be awake during the procedure.
A larger catheter is inserted and carefully moved into the upper chamber of the right side of the heart. X-ray images may be used to help the doctor see where the catheter should be placed.
Blood may be removed from the catheter to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood.
During the procedure, your heart's rhythm will be constantly watched using an electrocardiogram (ECG).
How to prepare for the test
You should not eat or drink anything for 8 hours before the test starts. You may need to stay in the hospital the night before the test. Otherwise, you will check in to the hospital the morning of the test.
In critically ill patients, the test may be done in the intensive care unit.
You will wear a hospital gown. You must sign a consent form before the test. Your health care provider will explain the procedure and its risks.
How the test will feel
You may be given sedation to help you relax before the procedure, but you will be awake and able to follow instructions during the test.
You may feel some discomfort when the IV is placed into your arm and some pressure at the site when the catheter is inserted. In critically ill patients, the catheter may stay in place for several days.
You may feel discomfort when the area of the vein is numbed with anesthetic.
Why the test is performed
The procedure is done to evaluate how the blood moves (circulates) in people who have:
Kern M. Catheterization and angiography. In: Goldman L,Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 55.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.