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A member asked:

How painful are catheter procedures? the idea of someone poking a long tube through a body sounds at least mildly uncomfortable. is there anesthesia used on the patient?

4 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. David Dang
Radiology 14 years experience
The : The idea may sound awful but it is a minimally invasive procedure. Most physicians give local anesthetics which is typically lidocaine, similar to the medicine used by dentists. You will typically feel pin prick and mild pain with the local anesthetics. Some physicians will also provide conscious sedation which typically include intravenous administration of pain and sedative medicines. We typically provide local anesthetics and conscious sedation at our hospital practice. During the angiogram, the physician will inject a contrast material which may make you feel warm or a slight burning sensation. You can follow the following link for additional information provided by the american college of radiology: http://www.Radiologyinfo.Org/en/info.Cfm?Pg=angiocath.
Dr. Robert Andrews
Interventional Radiology 36 years experience
Diagnostic : Diagnostic catheter procedures are mildly painful only twice: when local anesthesthetic is injected at the puncture site and when, after the procedure, pressure is applied at the puncture site to prevent any bleeding. During the procedure, you should feel little or nothing. If you think about this, it makes sense: you can't feel blood moving though your vessels (other than the pulse it creates), so you shouldn't feel the catheter in your vessel either. If there is an intervention during the catheter study, like a balloon angioplasty, stent placement, or biopsy, you may feel that and it might be briefly uncomfortable. Patients undergoing catheter studies are almost always given sedation to help them remain comfortable. I've written a health guide on this site which discusses conscious sedation in detail; a link to that guide is attached to this answer.
Dr. Robert Andrews
Interventional Radiology 36 years experience
Diagnostic : Diagnostic catheter procedures are mildly painful only twice: when local anesthetic is injected at the puncture site and when, after the procedure, pressure is applied at the puncture site to prevent any bleeding. During the procedure, you should feel little or nothing. If you think about this, it makes sense: you can't feel blood moving though your vessels (other than the pulse it creates), so you shouldn't feel the catheter in your vessel either. If there is an intervention during the catheter study, like a balloon angioplasty, stent placement, or biopsy, you may feel that and it might be briefly uncomfortable. Patients undergoing catheter studies are almost always given sedation to help them remain comfortable. I've written a health guide on this site which discusses conscious sedation in detail; a link to that guide is attached to this answer.
Dr. Richard Pollard
Anesthesiology 30 years experience
Local Anesthesia: Most urologists will use local anesthesia to help with this procedure. This is not a painful, but is somewhat uncomfortable procedure. If you are talking about a cardiac catheterization a similar local anesthetic will be used. Sometimes the cardiologist will use some sedation as well.

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Last updated Jan 13, 2019

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