Coronary angiography is a medical procedure used to examine blood flow within the heart. Sometimes, it is referred to as an x-ray examination of the cardiovascular structures. The procedure generally uses a contrast dye and x-rays to visualize the heart chambers and blood vessels. An individual may have a coronary angiography done after experiencing heart-related symptoms. Usually, the procedure is formed by a cardiologist.
A person may be advised to undergo coronary angiography if he or she is experiencing problems with his or her heart. This may include having chest pains with an undiagnosed cause. The chest pains may appear in the presence or absence of physical exertion. If a person recently had a heart attack, an angiography may be done to detail the extent of damage to the coronary arteries. Additionally, a person with heart failure may have this procedure done as a way to analyze the condition's progression.
Generally, a mild sedative will be given to the patient before undergoing this procedure. During coronary angiography, a catheter is inserted into one of the largest arteries or veins in the groin, neck or arm and threaded into the heart. The area from which the catheter will be placed will be sterilized and numbed. A contrast dye will be administered to highlight the areas being studied. Several x-rays will be taken as the contrast dye passes through the arteries and into the heart.
Doctors may perform angiographies in a hospital or outpatient center. Usually, no particular preparations are needed for a coronary angiography. A patient may be asked to stop eating within several hours of having the procedure. Often, medications may also need to be altered. Some patients may be asked to take medications in a different dosage or at a different time.
Following coronary angiography, a person can be relatively drowsy from the sedative. For this reason, most doctors require the patient to be accompanied by someone who can drive him or her home. Once at home, the person will need to be careful to look for any adverse reactions. Although, they are not very common, some people may develop a fever, have excessive bleeding from the catheter site or have a moderate amount of pain. In any of these events a doctor should be contacted for adequate treatment.
Prior to leaving the outpatient center or hospital, doctors will typically inform patients on when to expect results of their coronary angiography. A physician may be able to reveal preliminary results immediately following the procedure. The results of the angiography will determine if additional treatment will be needed for a disclosed cardiovascular condition.