Coronary angiography is a diagnostic procedure that uses X-rays and a special dye called contrast material to study the flow of blood in the arteries of the heart. It is used to detect abnormalities in your blood vessels such as narrowing, blockage, or enlargement. The X-ray report provided as a result is known as a coronary angiogram.
Indications for Coronary Angiography: Why is Coronary Angiography Performed?
Coronary angiography is recommended to ascertain the cause of certain heart disorders and to develop a suitable treatment plan. These include:
- Angina (chest pain)
- Cardiac valve problems
- Transient ischemic attack (a “mini-stroke”)
- Heart failure
Coronary angiography can also be performed if your cardiac stress test is abnormal.
How to Prepare for Coronary Angiography?
Your cardiologist may instruct you to avoid eating or drinking anything for 8 hours before your test. Inform your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to the contrast material in the past or if you are on certain medications.
What Happens during Coronary Angiography: How is it Performed?
You will be administered a local anesthetic and a mild sedative to help you relax. The catheter insertion area is cleansed. Then your cardiologist introduces a thin tube called a catheter into your artery through either the groin or arm and advances it up to your heart to the affected coronary artery.
After positioning the catheter, a contrast dye is injected into it. The live X-rays display the flow of dye through your arteries. This helps detect any blockages in the blood flow.
Coronary angiography may last 30 to 60 minutes.
What are the Risks and Complications of Coronary Angiography?
As with any medical procedure, there are risks associated with coronary angiography. These include:
- Pain at the site of catheter insertion or IV injection
- Allergic reaction to the contrast dye
- Injury to your heart or the blood vessels/surrounding tissues
- Bleeding or formation of blood clots
Serious complications may include a stroke or a heart attack.
How do you feel During Coronary Angiography?
In most of cases, you will be awake during your test. You may feel slight pressure at the site where the catheter is placed. After the dye is injected, you may feel a warm sensation or flushing.
Discharge from Hospital: When can you Go Home after Coronary Angiography?
You may be required to stay in the hospital for a number of hours or overnight. During this time, you will be monitored for any abnormal reactions. You will be given plenty of fluids to flush the dye from your kidneys and to prevent dehydration.
Before discharge, depending on where the catheter was inserted, you will be given specific instructions on how to monitor the site for bleeding. If a catheter was inserted into your groin, you should avoid heavy lifting for a week to prevent bleeding.