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Swan Ganz Catheterization

A procedure called a Swan-Ganz catheterization, named after the two inventors who developed it, is used to evaluate patients who have had a heart attack or heart failure, fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), leaky heart values, shock and other heart conditions, including preparation for heart transplantation. In some cases, it can be used to deliver certain heart medications. It is a type of pulmonary artery catheterization (PAC) that is also called a right heart catheterization since it measures pressure of your blood in three separate places as it flows through the right side of the heart. These readings will help your cardiologist determine how much oxygen is in the blood and how much blood is flowing out of your heart. Before a patient undergoes a heart transplant, a Swan-Ganz catheterization is normally performed to ensure that their pulmonary heart pressure is low enough for surgery or if medications are needed to lower the pressure.

The procedure can be done in the cath lab or even by a patient’s bedside. Before the procedure, you will be given a sedative to help you relax. You will be connected to equipment to measure to heartbeat, blood pressure and oxygen levels to ensure your safety. The area – normally the neck or groin – where the PAC catheter will be inserted will be cleaned and numbed with a local anesthesia. Your cardiologist will insert the catheter into a vein and slowly wind it to the right side of the heart. There, your doctor can measure the blood pressure in the pulmonary artery and take any blood samples to check your oxygen levels or give medications to test your heart. The catheter will be removed, and the incision may require a few small stitches. While most patients have a short procedure, the PAC may need to remain in place for a longer period of time if you need additional monitoring.

How to prepare for Swan Ganz Catheterization 
Do not eat or drink after midnight on the evening before the procedure. Take your regular medications, but only have a small amount of water to take pills. If you take blood thinners or have diabetes, talk with your doctor about any special instructions.

If you are allowed to return home, you will not be able to drive, so you will need to have a driver to take you home from the hospital. Your cardiologist will advise you of any special instructions and precautions once you are home.