Pulmonary Artery Catheterization

What is pulmonary artery catheterization?

Pulmonary artery catheterization is a procedure performed to provide information regarding the patient's blood circulation, specifically, the pressure and amount of fluid or blood in the circulation and an assessment of the pumping action of the heart.

What is a pulmonary artery catheter?

A pulmonary artery catheter, also called a right heart catheter or a Swan-Ganz catheter, is a specialized central venous catheter designed to provide information about the blood and heart.

When is pulmonary artery catheterization used?

ICU patients frequently have profound disturbances in heart or lung function secondary to a critical illness, severe trauma, or high-risk surgery. The doctors and nurses attempt to rapidly restore the heart and lung function to normal. When initial therapies do not stabilize a patient, the doctors may use pulmonary artery catheterization to help guide their therapy.

How is a pulmonary artery catheter used?

The pulmonary artery catheter insertion is performed at the patient's bedside in the ICU. The pulmonary artery catheter is inserted through a specialized central venous catheter called an introducer sheath. As the pulmonary artery catheter is inserted, it passes through the right-side heart chambers (atrium and ventricle) into the lung blood vessels where it rests. Occasionally, the doctors need fluoroscopy, which is a special type of X-ray, to help guide them during the pulmonary artery catheter insertion. The catheter is connected to the bedside monitor where the information about the blood and heart are displayed. Doctors and nurses use information provided by the catheter monitor to continuously adjust fluids and medications, in order to optimize the patient's heart and lung function.

Does pulmonary artery catheterization hurt?

The patient feels some discomfort as the introducer sheath is inserted. No pain is felt, however, when the actual pulmonary artery catheter is inserted.

How long is pulmonary artery catheterization used?

The pulmonary artery catheter remains in place until the information it provides is no longer necessary to stabilize the patient. Typically, a single catheter does not remain in the patient for more than four or five days. If the catheter information is still required after four days, a new pulmonary artery catheter is inserted.

Are there any potential complications associated with pulmonary artery catheterization?

Use of pulmonary artery catheterization is associated with potential complications that are infrequent but include serious heart rhythm disturbance, blood clot formation around the catheter, lung collapse, and catheter related infections.

Pulmonary artery catheter (long, yellow, S-shaped line) inserted into a vein (internal jugular) in the neck