This is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to treat narrowing of the coronary arteries. The procedure is now often performed via a small blood vessel in the arm (radial artery).
A short tube is placed in the artery under local anaesthetic. Wires and longer tubes (called catheters) are then passed through the small tube towards the heart. This is not usually painful. Contrast is then injected into the arteries of the heart.
Very thin wires are then passed through the coronary artery that is narrowed. Balloons and stents can be passed over this wire. Balloons are used to open the narrowing and a stent is often placed to keep the artery open. The stent is usually a metal alloy that is coated with a special drug that reduces its chance of re-narrowing.
At the end of the procedure all equipment is removed from the body; however if a stent has been implanted this will remain in the artery for life.
The procedure generally takes 40 minutes but may be longer, if additional tests are performed at the same time, if multiple balloons and stents are deployed or if the procedure is complex. These additional tests include pressure wire assessment (fractional flow reserve/ instant wave-free ratio), intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and optical coherence tomography (OCT).
There is a less than 1 in 100 risk of a serious complication developing during the procedure. Complications could include a heart attack, stroke or death, and coronary artery bypass surgery.
Depending on the complexity of the procedure you will be monitored for 2-4 hours and discharged home if all is well or you may be admitted overnight.