Care for the Catheter Insertion Site
Procedures may be performed in the femoral artery in the groin (in the area at the top of your thigh) or in the radial artery in your arm. When you go home, there will be a bandage (dressing) over the catheter insertion site (also called the wound site).
- The morning after your procedure, you may take the dressing off. The easiest way to do this is when you are showering, get the tape and dressing wet and remove it.
- After the bandage is removed, cover the area with a small adhesive bandage. It is normal for the catheter insertion site to be black and blue for a couple of days. The site may also be slightly swollen and pink, and there may be a small lump (about the size of a quarter) at the site.
- Wash the catheter insertion site at least once daily with soap and water. Place soapy water on your hand or washcloth and gently wash the insertion site; do not rub.
- Keep the area clean and dry when you are not showering.
- Do not use creams, lotions or ointment on the wound site.
- Wear loose clothes and loose underwear.
- Do not take a bath, tub soak, go in a Jacuzzi, or swim in a pool or lake for one week after the procedure.
Your doctor will tell you when you can resume activities. In general, you will need to take it easy for the first two days after you get home. You can expect to feel tired and weak the day after the procedure. Take walks around your house and plan to rest during the day.
For femoral procedure
- Do not strain during bowel movements for the first 3 to 4 days after the procedure to prevent bleeding from the catheter insertion site.
- Avoid heavy lifting (more than 10 pounds) and pushing or pulling heavy objects for the first 5 to 7 days after the procedure.
- Do not participate in strenuous activities for 5 days after the procedure. This includes most sports - jogging, golfing, play tennis, and bowling.
- You may climb stairs if needed, but walk up and down the stairs more slowly than usual.
- Gradually increase your activities until you reach your normal activity level within one week after the procedure.
For radial procedure
- Do not use the wrist used in the procedure to lift more than 2 pounds for 24 hours.
- Do not participate in strenuous activities for 2 days after the procedure. This includes most sports - jogging, golfing, play tennis, and bowling.
- Do not use a lawn mower, motorcycle, chainsaw or all-terrain vehicle for 48 hours.
- Gradually increase your activities until you reach your normal activity level within two days after the procedure.
Ask your doctor when it is safe to
- Return to work. Most people are able to return to work within 1 to 2 weeks after an interventional procedure. If you had a heart attack, your recovery may be longer. Your doctor will provide specific guidelines about returning to work.
- Resume sexual activity.
- Resume driving. Most people are able to resume driving within 24 hours after going home.
- Please review your medications with your doctor before you go home. Ask your doctor if you should continue taking the medications you were taking before the procedure.
- If you had a percutaneous intervention (PCI), you will need to take an antiplatelet medication such as clopidogrel, prasugrel or ticagrelor. Do not stop this medication until your doctor tells you to.
- If you have diabetes, your doctor may adjust your diabetes medications for one to two days after your procedure. Please be sure to ask for specific directions about taking your diabetes medication after the procedure.
- Depending on the results of your procedure, your doctor may prescribe new medication. Please make sure you understand what medications you should be taking and how often to take them.
Be sure to drink eight to ten glasses of clear fluids (water is preferred) to flush the contrast material from your system.
Importance of a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
It is important for you to be committed to leading a heart-healthy lifestyle. Your health care team can help you achieve your goals, but it is up to you to take your medications as prescribed, make dietary changes, quit smoking, exercise regularly, keep your follow-up appointments and be an active member of the treatment team.
Enroll in an outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program to assist with developing the best exercise program and assisting with lifestyle changes such as heart healthy diet, quitting smoking, weight loss and stress management. Cardiac rehab is covered by most insurance companies for patients after a heart attack.
Your Cleveland Clinic cardiologist will contact your referring or primary care doctor by phone or fax to report the results of your procedure. Your doctor also will receive a written report from Cleveland Clinic in the mail that will include a general summary of your medical condition including the procedure you underwent, your prescribed medications and care plan. Ask your primary care doctor when you should return for follow-up testing.
Please ask your doctor if you have any questions about cardiac catheterization, angioplasty or stenting.
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When to Call 911
Go to your local emergency department, Cleveland Clinic Emergency Department, or call 911 if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Chest pain or discomfort (angina-like) that lasts for 5 minutes and is not relieved by rest or medications. The pain may go away and come back again. It may also feel like a heaviness, tightness, pressure, aching, burning, numbness, fullness or squeezing. Sometimes the feeling is similar to indigestion or heartburn. If you have a prescription for nitroglycerin and have these symptoms, place a tablet/spray once under your tongue and wait 5 minutes. If the angina continues, call 911. If you have chronic stable angina and still have symptoms after taking your nitro and waiting 5 minutes, take another tablet. You can take up to 3 tablets (1 every 5 minutes, for 15 minutes). If you still have angina after 15 minutes, call 911.
- Bleeding from the catheter insertion site that doesn’t stop after 20 minutes.Bleeding is rare, but if it does happen, remove all of the dressing over the site. Use a clean compress (clean gauze, wash cloth) to apply pressure directly on the site. If the catheter was inserted at the arm/wrist, apply the pressure to the site while keeping your arm straight and raised above the level of your heart. If the catheter was inserted at the groin, lie down and apply pressure to the site. Call 911 if the bleeding doesn’t stop after 20 minutes. As soon as emergency personnel arrive, they will take over your care.
- Fast heart rate - more than 120 beats per minute, especially if you are short of breath.
- New irregular heart beat.
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath NOT relieved by rest.
- Sudden numbness or weakness in arms or legs.
- Fainting spells.
- Pain or discomfort in your arm(s), left shoulder, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Sweating or a “cold sweat”.
- Feeling full. This can feel like indigestion or heartburn. You may feel like you’re choking.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Feeling light-headed, dizzy, very weak or anxious
When to Call Your Doctor
Call your Cleveland Clinic doctor or your local doctor if you have:
- Pus-like drainage, redness or unusual warmth at the catheter insertion site.
- Feelings of coldness, numbness, tingling or excessive swelling on the leg or arm of the catheter insertion site.
- A lump at the insertion site: Golf ball-sized at the groin or grape-sized at the wrist.
- Extreme pain or swelling at the catheter insertion site.
- Signs of infection: Redness, warmth, drainage at the wound site or a fever (temperature over 101 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Signs of activity intolerance that last longer than 20 minutes or that return on a regular basis, including chest discomfort, excessive shortness of breath, dizziness or irregular heartbeats.
- Questions about your procedure, medications, follow-up schedule or treatment plan.
If you have any questions or concerns when you go home, you will be provided a phone number before you leave the hospital to call a nurse. Nurses are available 24/7 to answer your questions.