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 will be given a mild sedative to help you relax.
An area of your body, usually the neck or groin, is cleaned and numbed with a local anesthetic. The health care provider will make a small cut in a vein in your neck or groin. Sometimes, the cut is made in another area. A thin hollow tube called a catheter is inserted through the cut and up into a vein. It is carefully moved up into the right atrium (upper chamber) of the heart. X-ray images help the doctor see where the catheter should be placed.
The catheter is threaded through two heart valves (the tricuspid and pulmonary valve) and placed into the pulmonary (lung) artery. Once it is in place, the blood pressure in the pulmonary artery is measured.
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.
Why the test is performed
The procedure is done to evaluate how the blood moves (circulates) in people who have:
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and 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., Inc.