Angiography is a procedure performed to examine the inside of blood vessels, arteries, and veins through the use of X-ray images. The procedure is commonly performed to view the blood flow through the heart, brain, lungs, legs, and arms. It is performed to check if veins are becoming narrow, blocked, enlarged or malformed.
The angiography performed on veins, arteries or the chambers of the heart to diagnose heart diseases is called coronary angiogram or coronary angiography.
A coronary angiography procedure uses a special type of dye and an X-ray machine to properly diagnose heart conditions. Several X-rays, also called angiograms, are taken during the procedure. The pictures help the doctor to diagnosis the heart condition.
If during the angiography, the doctor sees any problem in the heart or clogged veins, an angioplasty is recommended. A stent may be inserted in certain cases as well.
In some cases, coronary angiograms are performed on emergency cases or after noninvasive heart tests such as an electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram or a stress test. However, if the procedure has been scheduled in advance, the patient has enough time to be prepared.
Inform your doctor about any diseases you had and any medications you take. There are other recommendations that might help you become more prepared for the procedure:
The patient lies on an X-ray table. To take accurate images, safety straps may be used to keep patient still. The patient will be then administrated with a sedative and local anesthesia to help him relax.
A small tube called catheter is usually inserted into the groin or sometimes into the arm. The area must be cleaned and shaved before the insertion. The catheter is carefully directed towards the coronary arteries or the heart.
A dye is passed through the catheter and into the blood vessel. Once the dye has spread, the area will be X-rayed. Multiple images will be taken and the patient will be asked to lie very still during the imaging procedure.
As soon as images are taken, the catheter is removed and pressure is applied to the area to prevent bleeding. Small bandage is applied at the end.
The procedure is pain-free and does not require any stiches. Also, the patient does not need hospitalization, but to make sure if everything is ok, he might be asked to lie down for a few hours before going back home.
If the angiograms show any abnormal function in the cardiac, the patient might need to stay at the hospital to perform an angioplasty or to place in a stent.
If there is any blockage inside the veins which might affect the heart, angiography can show the problem and angioplasty will treat it.
Since the dye is inserted to the vein, you might feel a little pain or see bruises in the incision site.
If you notice any bleeding, change in temperature or any sign of infection, such as redness or fever, contact your doctor.