A Simple Explanation

This is an imaging diagnostic test used to take X-ray images of the blood flow in the coronary arteries using contrast dyes, injected into the blood through a thin tube called catheter.

What is it?

This is one of the diagnostic tests and procedures used in cardiology. It is also known as coronary catheterization.

This is a minimally invasive procedure to access the circulation of the coronary arteries and the chambers of the heart using a thin tube called catheter. It is performed on patients who had heart attacks, unexplained heart failure, arrhythmia, chest pain et al.

Cardiac Catheterization

This is a procedure used to diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions. As the name suggests, in Cardiac Catheterization, a long thin tube, designed to be thinner than the lumen of the artery, is inserted into an artery or a vein either in the groin, neck or arm and then threaded through the blood vessels to the heart.

The doctor uses this catheter to perform diagnostic tests as part of Cardiac Catheterization. In some cases, treatment of heart diseases like Coronary Angioplasty can be performed using this.

Risks of Cardiac Catheterization

  • Bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Damage to the artery at the catheter insertion site that may require more attention
  • Irregular Heart Rhythms
  • Kidney Damage
  • Infection
  • Blood Clots

Coronary Angiography

This is an imaging technique used to detect the blockages in the coronary arteries, using X-Ray imaging of the blood with contrast dyes. These blockages prevent heart from getting the required oxygen and important nutrients and they have to be detected in order to prevent chest pains and heart attacks at a later stage.

This test is usually conducted when the patient complains of chest pain, a sudden cardiac arrest or abnormal results from ECG or an exercise stress test.

The Procedure

  • The patient will have to inform the doctor for any allergies to any of the medications or the dye used.
  • The patient will be asked not to eat or drink anything for nearly 8 hours before the procedure.
  • The blood pressure is recorded at first.
  • The area of the catheter Insertion site, either the groin or arm area is cleaned and given local anaesthetic.

The Actual Procedure

The doctor inserts a catheter into the artery either in the groin area or arm. Then carefully moves the catheter through the large arteries till it reaches the opening of the coronary arteries, using the help of X-ray Images. The internal blood pressure is maintained so that the catheter does not block the bloodflow.

Once the catheter is in position, the X-ray dye is injected into the catheter and mixed with the blood in the artery for visibility. Then, X-ray images are taken to see the path of the blood highlighted by the dye. These X-ray images are used to show the blockages in the blood vessel.

The dye is visible for few seconds before being washed away through the blood vessels. The procedure usually lasts for an hour or so.


The patient will be put under observation for a couple of hours. You might have a small amount of bruising at the catheter entry point; it is common and nothing to be worried about.

The patient will be checked regularly for bleeding or swelling.

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