Alternate Names : Right Heart Catheterization, Catheterization, Right Heart
During the Swan-Ganz catheterization, a thin flexible tube is inserted into the
right side of the heart to measure and monitor its functions.
The test is usually done in severely ill, hospitalized persons to evaluate how
the heart is functioning. It can determine the amount of blood flowing through
the heart. It can also be used to monitor the effects of a heart attack, shock, and the effects of cardiovascular drugs.
How is the test performed?
Swan-Ganz catheterization is done in the hospital. First, the patient is given
a mild sedative to help him or her relax. Then, an intravenous line is inserted
into a vein in the arm to allow drugs to be delivered during the procedure. The
procedure itself involves inserting a thin flexible tube, or catheter, into a
large vein in the neck, groin, or arm. This catheter is then threaded all the
way into the right side of the heart.
To begin, an area of skin on the neck, groin, or arm is cleaned with an
antiseptic. A local anesthetic is injected at the site to numb the area. A
specialist, such as a cardiologist, makes a small incision at this site. Then,
the Swan-Ganz catheter is inserted and threaded to the heart.
Once in the heart, the catheter is passed through the right atrium and the
right ventricle. From there it goes into the pulmonary artery. All of this is
sometimes guided by X-ray images. Heart function during the procedure is
monitored by electrocardiography (EKG), a recording of the
electrical activity of the heart.