First, a cardiac catheterization is performed. You will receive medication for relaxation, and then the doctor will numb the site with local anesthesia.
Next, a sheath (a thin plastic tube) is inserted into an artery — usually in your groin, but sometimes in the arm. A long, narrow, hollow tube, called a catheter, is passed through the sheath and guided up the blood vessel to the arteries surrounding the heart.
A small amount of contrast material is injected through the catheter and is photographed as it moves through the heart’s chambers, valves, and major vessels. From the digital pictures of the contrast material, the doctors can tell whether the heart valves are working correctly.
Once the catheter engages the artery with the blockage, the doctor will perform one of the interventional procedures described below.
The procedure usually lasts about 1 to 2 hours, but the preparation and recovery time add several hours. You may stay in the hospital overnight to be observed by the medical staff.