Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty
After the Procedure
Following the PTCA, you will be moved to the cardiac recovery area. If the insertion point of the catheter was your arm, your recovery will be completed in approximately two hours. During recovery, you may be allowed to move about. However, in most cases, the insertion point is the groin and this will require a longer and more restricted recovery. In this case, you will need to lie flat in bed without bending your leg for a period of several hours. If the doctor did not remove the sheath from your blood vessel, the sheath will remain in place during most of your recovery. Many patients, and particularly those with back problems, may find that they experience more discomfort during recovery than during the actual procedure as they lay flat for several hours without moving their leg. Otherwise, the recovery is usually uneventful and pain free. If there are no complications, most patients can expect to stay overnight in the hospital following a PTCA and then be discharged the following day.
During the recovery period, you will be watched closely and your heart rate and blood pressure will be carefully monitored. The nurse will check the insertion point to make sure that there is no bleeding. You should tell the nurse or doctor if you have any unusual symptoms following your cardiac catheterization. In particular, let them know if you feel any pain or discomfort in the chest. Also tell them if you have pain, discomfort, numbness, cold, or wetness at the insertion point.
Once you are ready to leave the hospital, you will not be permitted to drive. So, please arrange for someone to drive you home. Normally, you will be able to return to your normal activities within a few days after you arrive home. You will receive additional instructions from your doctor or the nurse, but you should avoid lifting objects heavier than 10 pounds and be careful not to overexert yourself for one week or until the incision heals. You may have bruising and soreness at the point of the incision and you may notice a small lump in that area. This is due to the plug that may have been used to help close the artery. The bruising and soreness should go away within a few days, while you may notice the lump for several weeks. You will need to take special care of the incision, so please be sure that you understand the instructions you are given in that regard. Normally, you will not be able to shower for 24 hours after the procedure and you will need to keep the incision point clean, dry, and bandaged.
Very soon after a PTCA, many patients find that they feel better than they have felt for some time. This is because their heart had been starved of blood and now after the PTCA opened up their coronary artery, the heart is getting more of the nutrients it needs. Since they feel so good, many patients will be tempted to overexert themselves too early during the recovery period. Please take care to follow your doctor's instructions.