Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive medical procedure used for both diagnosis and treatment of certain heart conditions such as coronary arterial disease, valve disease and myocardial infarction (heart attack).
It is performed on patients who are having chest pain or a heart attack or have had an abnormal EKG or stress test.
You will be awake for this procedure. After being given a mild sedative, a catheter (a thin flexible tube) is inserted into your arm, your groin or your neck and threaded through your heart. There is only very minimal discomfort. A special dye will be inserted into the catheter, which will allow your doctor to take pictures of your heart. The dye makes your coronary arteries visible to your doctor and shows whether there is plaque build-up inside the arteries, which is blocking the blood flow to the heart.
If there are blockages that are of severity, your doctor may use PCI (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention), also known as coronary angioplasty or angioplasty. With this procedure, the cardiologist inserts a deflated balloon into the catheter until it reaches the blockage and inserts a stent (a small mesh tube) to open up the blocked artery.
Cardiac catheterization and PCI rarely causes serious complications.