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CARDIO-VASCULAR DIAGNOSTIC WORKSHOP: SPECIAL EXAMINATIONS: SWAN GANS CATHETER

This diagnostic procedure involves no risk, little intervention and requires only devices which are available in an ordinary hospital. The examination may be repeated several times and yields important information, especially when combined with the previously described ergometry including the EKG.

The procedure consists of several steps. First, a thin two-way catheter within a special needle is inserted into a locally anesthetized arm vein. A tiny, thin expandable balloon is at the tip of the catheter. Once in the vein, the catheter flows with the blood stream into the right auricle, and through the right ventricle into the pulmonary artery. The patient cannot feel this movement during the procedure. The end of the catheter outside the arm is attached to a transducer. This tiny instrument changes the fluid pressure inside the right auricle, the ventricle and the pulmonary artery into an electrical impulse which is then recorded. An EKG is done simultaneously with the pressure measurements.

After measuring these values at rest, the patient takes the bicycle ergometer test. The EKG, heart rate, blood pressure and

the fluid pressure of pulmonary circulation are measured and registered continuously.

When the findings of the usual examinations do not reveal any alterations, elevated pressure readings of pulmonary circulation can be the first signs of a heart attack. No other method is available to detect weakening in the pumping action of the heart in the early stages of heart disease. Moreover, it is possible to judge the effectiveness of medication and the way in which it affects the tolerance for physical exertion. After the examination, the catheter is removed and the point of injection is covered with a bandage, so the patient can return to his normal activities.

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Cardio & Blood