Catheterization: Uses, Intervention Procedure, Duration, Possible Risks and Preparation

It is an invasive diagnostic imaging procedure that allows your doctor to evaluate the functioning of your heart.

Cardiac catheterization is also known as a cardiac catheter or coronary angiography.

Uses of catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is used to:

  • Evaluate or confirm the presence of coronary artery disease, valvulopathy, or aortic disease.
  • Evaluate the function of the heart muscle.
  • Determine the need for additional treatment (such as an interventional procedure, a coronary artery bypass graft, or CABG surgery).

During cardiac catheterization, a long, narrow tube called a catheter is inserted through a plastic introducer sheath (a short, hollow tube inserted into a blood vessel in the leg or arm).

The catheter is guided through the blood vessels to the coronary arteries with the help of a particular X-ray machine.

Contrast material is injected through the catheter, and X-ray films are created as the contrast material moves through the heart’s chambers, valves, and major vessels. This part of the procedure is called coronary angiography.

Coronary artery disease is the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries (heart). After an interventional procedure, the coronary artery is opened, which increases blood flow to the heart.


Digital photographs of the contrast material are used to identify the site of narrowing or blockage in the coronary artery.

In some cases, additional imaging procedures called intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and fractional flow reserve (FFR) can be performed along with cardiac catheterization to obtain detailed images of the vessel walls. blood

Both imaging procedures are currently only available in specialized hospitals and research centers.

With IVUS, a miniature sound probe (transducer) is placed on the tip of a coronary catheter.

The catheter is threaded through the coronary arteries and, using high-frequency sound waves, produces detailed images of the internal walls of the streets. The IVUS creates an accurate picture of the location and extent of the plate.

With FFR, a special cable is passed through the artery, and a vasodilator drug is administered. This test is functionally performing a high-quality stress test for a short segment of the street.

What is an intervention procedure?

An intervention procedure (also called angioplasty ) is a non-surgical treatment used to open narrow coronary arteries to improve blood flow to the heart.

An interventional procedure can be performed when a blockage is identified during a diagnostic cardiac catheterization. It can be scheduled after a catheterization has confirmed the presence of coronary artery disease.

Interventional procedures include balloon angioplasty, stenting, tabulation, or balloon cutting.

Will I be awake during the procedure?

Yes. You will be given a mild sedative to relax you, but you will be awake and aware throughout the procedure. The doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb the catheter insertion site.

Cardiac catheterization is not considered a surgical procedure because a large incision is not used to open the thorax, and the recovery time is much shorter than that of surgery.

In some cases, surgery may be recommended afterward, depending on the procedure results.

Where is catheterization performed, and who completes it?

Cardiac catheterizations are performed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory. Catheterizations are performed by a specially trained cardiovascular invasive physician and a cardiovascular team of fellows, nursing technicians, and cardiology technicians.

How long is the procedure?

The cardiac catheterization procedure usually takes 30 minutes, but the preparation and recovery time adds several hours to your appointment time (five to nine hours or more).

What are the possible risks?

Your cardiologist will discuss the procedure’s specific risks and possible benefits with you.

Some of the possible risks of the cardiac catheter include:

  • Allergic reaction to the medication or contrast material used during the procedure.
  • Irregular heart rhythm.
  • Infection.
  • Bleeding at the catheter insertion site.
  • Continuous chest pain or angina.
  • Mild to moderate skin reactions (such as sunburn) from exposure to X-rays
  • Renal insufficiency .
  • Heart attack.
  • Blood clots.
  • Stroke.
  • Death.
  • Acute closure of the coronary artery.
  • Emergency coronary bypass graft surgery (CABG).

There may be other possible risks. When you meet with your doctor, ask questions to understand why the procedure is recommended and the potential risks.

Preparation for the procedure


Please discuss all your allergies with your doctor, especially the ones listed below:

  • IVP Dye / Contrast Agent Allergy, allergy to iodine.
  • Allergy to latex/rubber products.


Talk to your doctor about your medications; you may want to interrupt or adjust the doses several days before or the day of the procedure, especially those listed below:

  • Anticoagulant medication.
  • Aspirin.
  • Medications for diabetes.

Blood test, electrocardiogram, chest x-ray

Ask your doctor if all the required pre-procedure tests have been completed or are scheduled before your cardiac catheterization procedure.