Cardiac catheterization and angiography is an invasive procedure, used to investigate the structure and function of the heart. It is also used to test for any narrowing of the coronary arteries (arteries that supply blood to heart muscle). The procedure is performed with the use of X-ray guidance.

Importance of Procedure

Cardiac catheterization can provide in-depth and specific information about various cardiac diseases. Coronary angiography can provide a clear picture of the severity and location of narrowing in the coronary arteries. Treatment (percutaneous intervention using balloon and stenting) of these narrowing may occur immediately. Treatment may even be deferred pending further patient and Heart Team discussion, depending on the lesion/disease complexity and patient stability.

In emergency situations i.e. in the setting of an acute coronary syndromes (heart attack), the procedure is important in diagnosis and immediate, life-saving treatment of the problem (usually a blocked artery).

Cardiac catheterization, despite its invasiveness, can be life-saving and the consequence can be detrimental, unreasonably delayed.

Before the procedure, some preliminary tests may be performed, including electrocardiogram and blood tests. We will also check your allergy history. These can be performed days before the procedure or on the day of admission.

The Procedure

Simultaneous Coronary Intervention

When indicated, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) will be performed in the same setting of cardiac catheterization and coronary angiogram.

If any significant narrowing or blockages are found, then a tube with a tiny wire is passed down the affected artery so that a sausage-shaped balloon can be passed over it and into the part that is narrowed or blocked. To open up the artery, the balloon is inflated with fluid, which then presses against the plaque, pushing it out of the way, and also fracturing it.

Most of the time, one or more stents may be placed into the artery to help keep the artery open. A stent is a metal tube or spring coil which is passed into the diseased part of the artery using a balloon. The balloon is removed once the stent is in place. The stent stays in for life.

After the procedure, you will be given drugs, which reduce your risk of blood clotting and the stent blocking (dual antiplatelet therapy).

At the end of the procedure the artery may be closed with a special plug to stop the bleeding (see risk and complication below).
Angioplasty Procedure

Other procedure that may be required

Risk and Complications

Common Risks and Complications:

Please do not feel alarmed about the mention of these risks. They are indeed rare and it is the doctors' responsibility to mention them to you. However, feel reassured that the doctors take the utmost of care to prevent them occurring.

After the Procedure

When should I call my doctor or nurse?

Call your doctor or nurse if any of the following happen after your cardiac catheterization

Follow Up

Usually you can be discharged the same day, or more safely, one day after the procedure if intervention has occurred. The wound will be inspected and covered with light dressings.

Please keep the wound site clean and change dressings if wet. In general, showering is allowed after 1-2 days. Please avoid vigorous activities (household or exercise) in the first few days after the procedure. Bruising around the wound site is common and usually subsides. If you notice any signs of infection, increase in swelling or pain over the wound, please come back to the hospital or visit a nearby Accident and Emergency Department immediately. The Dr’s will discuss the results of the procedure before discharge. Should you have further questions, you and your close relatives can discuss with the Dr’s during subsequent follow-ups.


It is hard to mention all the possible consequences if this procedure is refused. The list of complications is not exhaustive and other unforeseen complications may occasionally occur. Please feel free to contact one of our Drs for any major queries.