After your catheterization, the hollow tube or "sheath" placed at the start of the procedure will be removed. This may be removed in the catheterization laboratory, in the recovery area or in your hospital room while you are closely monitored.
Some patients have their sheaths removed and pressure applied to the site for 20-30 minutes. Some patients may receive a small internal stitch or collagen plug which will close the artery. If a stitch or plug is used, you will need bed rest for two to four hours after your procedure. If pressure is applied, you will need bed rest for five to six hours after your procedure. The stitch or plug
technique cannot be used for everyone. Your cardiologist will decide which is the best procedure for you.
If your sheath is to remain in place for subsequent procedures, such as angioplasty, you will need to remain in bed until after the sheath is removed. You can damage your artery if you attempt to get out of bed, bend your leg sharply or sit up.
If you had a wrist or arm sheath...
Radial artery or "wrist" sheaths will be removed in the cath lab. A pressure dressing will be applied and will remain in place for approximately four hours. It is very important not to bend or use the affected arm during the recovery period. Radial artery patients are usually transported to their room by wheelchair and do not require bed rest.
If You Had an Interventional Procedure...
If you had angioplasty or stent placed, we may have to leave your sheath in place for a longer period of time. When arteries cannot be stitched or plugged after an intervention, the sheath cannot be removed for several hours. This is because blood thinners such as Heparin are given to prevent clot formation during the procedure. Blood thinners are used in all interventions and therefore, must be allowed to wear off before the sheath can be removed. In this case, you will go to your room with the sheath in place. At the appropriate time, staff nurses or cath lab staff will remove the sheath and apply pressure to the insertion site. You will probably spend a minimum of 10-12 hours in bed.
Sometimes a pressure device is placed over the groin insertion site to minimize or control bleeding. This consists of a wide belt and bracket around and over the hips. A diaphragm, inflated with air, will apply pressure to the artery. There is minimal discomfort, if any, associated with this device.
Going Back to Your Room
After you are transferred to the Progressive Care Unit (PCU), your nurse will carefully monitor your heart rate, heart rhythm, blood pressure and insertion site.
It is very important to let your nurse know if you have any pain, tingling, warmth, wetness or swelling at the site. Please notify your nurse immediately of any problems you may be having. You may be given medication for anxiety, restlessness, pain and general discomfort. Unless your groin site is unstable, you do not have to remain flat on your back for hours. Your nurse can and will elevate your bed slightly and help turn you from side to side.