Right heart ventriculography is a procedure that lets your doctor see the right chambers of the heart. It is used to diagnose problems with blood flow in the right side of the heart.

The right-side chambers of the heart include the right atrium and right ventricle. Blood that has not yet been pumped to the lungs (and therefore has no oxygen in it) collects in the right heart. Weakness in the right atrium and ventricle can also be seen through ventriculography.

Right heart ventriculography is sometimes also called “angiography” or an “arteriogram.” All of these terms refer to the procedure of viewing arteries in the body through X-ray study.

Right heart ventriculography is performed at the hospital under local anesthesia. You will be awake during the procedure, but will not experience pain. In most cases, you will be able to go home on the same day as the procedure.

Fasting for six to eight hours before angiography studies is required for most patients. Let your doctor know if you are taking medication that you must not miss. You may be allowed to take your medicines with a few sips of water.

A special fluid called contrast dye is often used to make the right side of the heart more visible. One of the ingredients of the dye is iodine, so let your doctor know if you are allergic to iodine or shellfish. You may be more likely to experience an allergic reaction to the contrast dye if you have either of these allergies.

You will be given a sedative medication intravenously about a half hour before the procedure. The sedative will help you relax, and you may become sleepy.

The doctor will use a catheter attached to a tiny camera to thread the catheter into the right atrium. The catheter is inserted into a vein in either your neck or your groin area. Your doctor will give you a local anesthetic at the point of insertion. You will feel pressure as the catheter moves its way to your right heart, but you should not feel any pain.

Your doctor will record the pressure of your heartbeats as the catheter works its way to the right side of your heart. When the catheter is in place, the doctor will inject the contrast dye into the catheter. The dye makes the outlines of the right heart easier to see, and pictures are taken as the dye moves through the heart. Your doctor will record the size and shape of the right atrium and ventricle during the procedure. The catheter is removed, and stitches are generally not required.

Right heart ventriculography can be a slow, painstaking process. Testing may take several hours to make sure an accurate assessment is made.

Discuss the risks associated with right heart ventriculography before scheduling the procedure. In general, the benefits of the test outweigh the risks. A variety of heart conditions, though rare, can result from angiogram studies, including:

  • heart arrhythmias
  • heart attack
  • fluid accumulation between the heart and its outer covering

Any type of invasive procedure carries the risk of bleeding and infection. You can reduce these risks by telling your doctor about any blood-thinning medications you take, and by keeping the catheter insertion site clean and dry.

Allergic reaction to the contrast dye material is another risk of this kind of imaging. You may feel warm and flushed when the dye is injected. Itching, swelling, and breathing difficulties may also indicate adverse reactions to the contrast dye. Contact your doctor if you experience these symptoms.

Your doctor will discuss the results of your right heart ventriculography with you. Results could possibly show:

  • a weakening of the right side of your heart
  • abnormal connecting points between the two sides of your heart
  • abnormal pressure in the right atrium and ventricle

Treatments vary according to the exact condition.