What is a Coronary Angiogram?
A Coronary Angiogram or Coronary Angiography is a technique that uses contrast dye and X-ray images to see your heart’s blood vessels, which are called the coronary arteries. It is performed to detect blockage in the coronary arteries. Coronary Angiogram is used for both diagnosing and treating the conditions related to heart and blood vessel.
Why is it done?
You will be suggested for an angiography if you are having any:
- Symptoms of coronary artery disease
- Increasing chest pain
- Congenital heart defect
- Abnormal results of non-invasive heart tests
- Chest injury or any blood vessel problem
- Problem in the heart valve that requires surgery
Due to the invasive nature of the investigation, angiograms are usually not performed until after non-invasive heart test have been performed, such as an electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram or a stress test.
What happens during the procedure?
A very small tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel through the groin or wrist. Once catheter is in position, a dye (contrast material) is injected and X-ray images are taken. As this fluid is detectible by an X-ray machine and your doctor can view the flow and locate the blockages. Sometimes, your doctor can perform an additional procedure (like stent placement) to open the narrowed artery. Once the procedure is over, catheter is removed.
How long will it take?
Usually, angiogram takes approximately 30 – 60 minutes. However, if your doctor performs any other additional procedure than it will take longer.
What happens after the procedure?
For few hours, you will be under observation and your vital signs will be monitored. You will be encouraged to walk. Drink plenty of water, to get rid of dye from your body. Based on your reports, your doctor will inform you about possible plan of treatment. You may be sent home on the same day or an overnight hospital stay may be advised. Follow-up appointment will be scheduled accordingly.
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How should I prepare for the test?
- You should not eat or drink after midnight i.e. on the night before the test.
- Inform your doctor about all your routine medications.
- If you have any allergies or previously been affected by intravenous contrast medium (the dye used for kidney X-rays and CT scans), you must let your doctor know.
- Please make sure that you are being accompanied by someone for returning home.
What results does angiogram show?
The reports show how many coronary arteries are blocked or narrowed and how much blood flow is blocked through the blood vessels. Your doctor can locate blockages in your blood vessels. It further helps in checking the results of previous coronary bypass surgery and blood flow through your heart and blood vessels.
How angiogram is useful?
Angiogram helps your doctor to detect any blood vessel abnormalities (like plaque deposit, blood clot etc.), diagnose any cardiovascular diseases, congenital abnormalities in the blood vessels or heart, to evaluate your health before planning surgery and to check the placement of stent.
After angiogram, how should I take care of myself at home?
- You should be accompanied by someone to return home; as self-driving is not advisable.
- You have to drink plenty of water to flush the dye.
- You should not be lifting heavy weight or straining yourself for few days.
- Follow your doctor’s advice.
UPDATED ON 15/11/2023