CHICAGO — A heart monitoring procedure used a million or more times a year in this country to treat critically ill patients may actually be killing some of them, researchers say.
Patients who underwent right heart catheterization had a 21% higher risk of death in the succeeding 30 days, according to figures on 5,735 intensive-care unit patients at five U.S. medical centers.
Right heart catheterization involves inserting a balloon-tipped catheter into a neck vein and guiding it into the heart's right atrium. The procedure lets doctors measure how the heart is performing and choose the right treatment.
The procedure, in use for 25 years, is a central element of care for critically ill patients who are in shock or whose hearts are functioning abnormally. The annual cost associated with its use is more than $2 billion.