Coronary artery disease is primarily treated using a minimally invasive procedure known as cardiac catheterisation. In this procedure, a special flexible tube (or catheter) is inserted through a small incision (of around 1 – 2 inches) at the groin into the artery. The tube is led through the artery to the heart, where it can be used to perform a number of treatments. Angiogram An angiogram is one of the most basic catheterisation procedures for the heart. The structure of the heart vessels and arteries is usually not visible through x-ray. During an angiogram, the catheter is used to inject a special x-ray visible dye into the blood stream of the coronary artery. With the dye, the specialist is now able to take an x-ray of the heart structure to determine the existence and extent of blockages within the coronary arteries. With a better view of the affected area, the cardiology specialist will be able to determine if an angioplasty is necessary. Balloon Angioplasty An angioplasty is a catheterisation procedure to prevent blockages in the coronary artery from restricting blood flow. The most common form of angioplasty is balloon angioplasty, where a catheter with an attached balloon is inserted into the coronary artery. When the catheter arrives at the blockage in the artery, the balloon is inflated to widen the artery and compress the blockage. This restores proper blood flow within the coronary artery, allowing blood to reach the heart muscles. Stenting Sometimes, when there is significant blockage or concern that the artery will narrow again, a scaffold known as a stent is implanted in the coronary artery. Looking like a tubular wire mesh, the stent is expanded when the balloon is inflated. It then locks into place, preventing the artery walls from narrowing in the future. A stent implant procedure usually requires the patient to take blood thinner medication to prevent blood from clotting on the stent. Stent technology has improved in recent years. There are now bio-absorbable stents which dissolve after some time, leaving behind healthy coronary walls. There also special drug-eluting stents which release drugs that prevent the build-up of blockages. Find out how coronary artery disease can be detected.