Right Heart Catherization (Sounds Fun, Right??)
I can't tell you the number of people who have come into PH chat, or posted on the PH message boards, who say they have been diagnosed with PH after have an echo done. While an echo is used often to try to figure out what's going on, an echo really never definitively diagnoses PH. The echo is an estimate. The numbers on an echo can be waaaaaay off compared to the actual numbers measured during the only test that truly DOES diagnosis PH: the right heart catherization!
The right heart catherization (RHC) is an invasive procedure. There is a tube inserted into the heart to measure pressures in the heart and lungs. This tube can be inserted through the groin, neck, or even the wrist nowadays (although I'm not sure how many hospitals are using this method, it's pretty new!). I hear most people can ask for some "happy juice" during the test, since usually the patient is not put to sleep, and it can be a little unnerving to go through. If the pressures in the pulmonary artery measure anything above 25mmHg, then the person does indeed have pulmonary hypertension.