A cardiac or coronary angiogram involves the use of x-ray imaging to study the insides of the blood vessels of the heart. This procedure may be recommended when the individual is experiencing symptoms such as chest pain which are indicative of coronary heart disease. Other symptoms such as pain in the arm, neck, chest and jaw, which cannot be explained through other tests, may also require a coronary angiogram. Congenital heart disease, chest pain that has been increasing, heart failure, damage to blood vessels due to chest injury and problems of the heart valve are other instances in which a coronary angiogram may be required.
A coronary angiogram is performed by injecting a contrast medium into the blood vessels through a catheter. This will enable visibility of the blood vessels that aids in the detection of problems. You will be made to lie on an x-ray table above which moving x-ray cameras may be present so that images from various angles may be taken. A sedative is given to relax the body during the procedure and instruments to record the vital signs are put in place. The catheter is usually inserted in the groin or arm area. This site is first cleaned and a local anesthetic is administered. An incision is made and a sheath is inserted into the artery. A catheter is then inserted through the sheath and into the blood vessel. It is then carefully moved upwards to the heart. A contrast medium is then injected through the catheter which may cause a slight sensation of warmth in the body. As the dye moves through the blood vessels, problems such as constrictions and blockages can be easily observed. Once the angiogram is complete, the catheter is removed and the incision is dressed.
After the procedure, you will be observed in a recovery area. Once your condition stabilizes, you will be taken into your own room where your vital signs will be monitored closely. You will be required to lie still for several hours to prevent bleeding. You may be allowed to return home the same day. In some cases the doctor may advise you to remain under observation for a day or two more. Doctors usually advise patients to refrain from vigorous exercise or heavy lifting for a few days after the procedure. If your occupation involves a lot of physical activity, it is best to ask your doctor when you can safely resume work.
Submitted by M T on February 16, 2010 at 03:13