Right Heart Catheterization

What is Right Heart Catheterization (RHC)?

Right Heart Catheterization (RHC) is a diagnostic procedure used to evaluate the function of the right side of the heart and measure pressures within the heart and lungs. During RHC, a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel, typically in the groin or neck, and guided to the right side of the heart.

RHC is performed for several reasons, including:


  1. Evaluation of heart function: RHC provides valuable information about the pressures within the heart chambers, helping diagnose conditions such as heart failure and pulmonary hypertension.
  2. Assessment of pulmonary artery pressures: RHC measures the pressure in the pulmonary arteries, aiding in the diagnosis and management of conditions affecting the lungs and circulation.
  3. Monitoring response to treatment: RHC can be used to assess the effectiveness of medications or interventions in managing heart and lung conditions, guiding further treatment decisions.

Before undergoing RHC, your Cardiologist will provide detailed instructions on how to prepare for the procedure. This may include fasting and discontinuing certain medications. RHC is usually performed in a cardiac catheterization laboratory (Cath lab) and is done under local anesthesia to numb the catheter insertion site.


During the procedure, your vital signs will be closely monitored by a team of healthcare professionals. The catheter is guided through the blood vessels to the right side of the heart, where measurements of pressures in the heart chambers and lungs are taken. The procedure typically lasts about an hour.

While RHC is generally safe, there are potential risks, including:


  • Bleeding or bruising at the catheter insertion site
  • Infection
  • Damage to blood vessels or surrounding structures
  • Allergic reactions to medications or contrast dye
  • Rarely, more serious complications such as arrhythmias or blood clots


Your medical team will take precautions to minimise these risks and promptly address any complications that may arise.

After RHC, you will be monitored in a recovery area for a period of time to ensure your stability. You may experience some mild discomfort at the catheter insertion site, but this is usually temporary. Your healthcare provider will provide instructions on post-procedure care, including any restrictions on physical activity and monitoring for signs of complications. It’s important to attend follow-up appointments to review the results of the procedure and discuss next steps in your treatment plan.