What is a Coronary Angiogram?

A coronary angiogram is a medical procedure that involves the use of X-ray imaging along with a special dye that allows doctors to visualize your heart and its blood vessels. The X-rays help reveal the extent of blockages in the blood vessels surrounding the heart.

A coronary angiogram is a type of cardiac catheterization procedure. Doctors use these procedures to determine the health of your heart and to diagnose and treat blood vessel and cardiac conditions.

How is a Coronary Angiogram performed?

During a coronary angiogram, a mild sedative is given to make you feel comfortable. A small catheter is inserted through the artery in your arm or groin and advanced toward the coronary arteries or the blood vessels to your heart. A small amount of special dye called radiographic contrast is injected into the cardiac blood vessels. The dye makes it easy for the doctor to see the chambers of your heart and blood vessels on X-ray images. Multiple X-rays are taken and the catheter is removed. The site is closed with sutures or sealed using manual compression.

A coronary angiogram typically takes about 10 to 15 minutes depending on your condition. In some cases, angioplasty or stent placement is performed along with the angiogram in which case it takes 30-60 minutes.

Why is a Coronary Angiogram performed?

A coronary angiogram is recommended if you have any of the following:

  • New or increasing pain in the chest, neck, arm, or jaw
  • Symptoms of a heart diseases such as coronary artery disease, unexplained LV dysfunction.
  • A problem with the heart valve, if planned for valve surgery
  • A congenital heart condition
  • Abnormal results on a stress test
  • Chest injury or other type of trauma

A coronary angiogram is always performed after routine non-invasive tests such as echocardiogram, electrocardiogram or stress test have been conducted.

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