Cardiac Catheterization

Getting you on the road to improved health

Expert Cardiac Testing, Close to Home 

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure that allows cardiologists to chart blood flow through the heart. Your cardiologist then uses this information to determine if any of your arteries are narrowed or if you have any blockages that require monitoring or treatment.

In addition to our Cardiac Catheterization Lab, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Plymouth offers a cardiovascular suite where you can go for cardiac stress tests, echocardiograms, stroke and other general heart and vein care.

Collaborative Care for Enhanced Outcomes

The Cardiac Catheterization Lab at BID Plymouth collaborates with interventional cardiologists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Together, we provide a complete array of on-site cardiac diagnostic, emergency and non-emergent cardiac stent procedures.


Our team performs echocardiograms for several reasons, including:

  • To determine if the heart valves function properly.
  • To get images of the heart in motion.
  • To measure the size of the heart chambers, major vessels and the thickness of the heart walls.

The two main types of echocardiograms that we perform are transthoracic echocardiograms and transesophageal echocardiograms (TEE).

Echocardiograms: What to Expect

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) is a procedure to evaluate the heart and surrounding structures. TEE often results in high quality pictures because it allows the cardiologist to view the heart from behind the esophagus. Your specialist may recommend this procedure if you need valve replacements, or if you have a history of stroke or congenital heart defects.

Preparing for Transesophageal Echocardiogram

  • Don't eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your test.
  • Wear a comfortable top that you can easily remove.
  • Check with your doctor for instructions on whether or not to take your medications the morning of your test.
  • Plan to stay at the hospital for three hours.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home, as well as stay with you for several hours after your test (if possible). 

Because this procedure requires you to be sedated, make plans ahead of time for work, home and family tasks, driving, etc. You won't be able to drive, operate machinery or make important decisions for 24 hours after the test.

During the Transesophageal Echocardiogram

A registered nurse (RN), echo technician and cardiologist are present for the entire test. A member of the testing team will ask you to lie on a stretcher and will give you medications through an intravenous (IV) line. You'll be temporarily sedated for the test. You'll also swallow a medication that numbs the back of your throat. These medications help to relax you and control any discomfort you may have during testing. You'll be awake and able to respond during the entire test; however, you will feel relaxed and drowsy.

Once you are sedated and your throat is numb, the technician passes a small, flexible tube containing a transducer (electronic device) into your esophagus. The transducer allows your cardiologist to see your heart from the back side. Your testing team will monitor you carefully before, during and for at least one hour after the test.

The sedation medications are temporary and wear off shortly after the test is completed. The procedure itself takes about one hour. Plan to be at the hospital for three to four hours, including time for preparation and recovery.

After the Transesophageal Echocardiogram

After the test, the RN will closely monitor you and remain with you in the procedure room until you are fully awake. You may feel drowsy for a while after the procedure. You may or may not have a sore throat.

Avoid eating or drinking anything for two hours after the procedure, so that the numbing medication has time to wear off. After two hours, you may eat soft foods but avoid hot liquids.

Transthoracic Echocardiogram

A transthoracic echocardiogram is a non-invasive ultrasound of your heart. This procedure uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to capture images. Your cardiologist uses the test to see and take pictures and measurements of your heart while it’s in motion. The procedure is safe and painless.

Preparing for the Transthoracic Echocardiogram

You may eat, drink and take your medication before the test unless your doctor advises otherwise. Plan to stay for about one hour.

During the Transthoracic Echocardiogram

You will lie on the exam table, and the echo technician will attach small adhesive electrocardiogram leads to your skin. The technician applies a small amount of clear gel to the transducer (small handheld probe) and to your skin. Then, they press the transducer against your chest to take the images.

The echo technician uses the transducer to see and take pictures of your heart in four different areas:

  • Along the sternum (breastbone)
  • At the top of the sternum by the neck
  • On the left side near the left breast
  • On your upper abdominal area

The technician may ask you to change positions from lying on your back to either of your sides so they can get a better view of your heart. Occasionally during the exam, the technician may press firmly. Most patients do not report any discomfort.

After the Transthoracic Echocardiogram

You may return to your usual routine immediately after the test is completed. Our testing team will analyze the images and then send the test results to your doctor who ordered the test.

Make an Appointment

To speak with a member of our team, please contact us.

Conditions We Treat

Your heart specialist may order an echocardiogram to help diagnose or monitor ongoing treatment for these conditions:

  • Aortic Aneurysm
  • Blood Clots
  • Congenital Heart Conditions
  • Heart Failure
  • Heart Murmur
  • Heart Tumor
  • Heart Valve Disease
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
  • Masses in the Heart
  • Mitral Valve Disorder
  • Status of Artificial Heart Valve
  • Tear in the Aortic Lining