This test is also known as a diagnostic coronary angiogram or sometimes abbreviated to just ’cardiac cath’ or ‘angio’. It is the ‘gold standard’ test for looking at the coronary arteries. Cardiac catheters can be performed as a purely diagnostic procedure, or combined with an angioplasty and stent procedure.
Cardiac catheterisation is performed by passing a long tube or catheter into the coronary arteries and injecting an iodine containing ‘contrast’ medium liquid so that the inside or ‘lumen’ of the arteries can be seen on an x-ray machine in real time. The access to the blood vessels is through a small ‘sheath’ introduced via the femoral artery (groin) or radial artery (wrist). At the end of the procedure the sheath is withdrawn and bleeding is stopped by pressing or using a ‘vessel closure’ device.
All test results should be treated with caution and interpreted in the context of a clinical assessment.