A cardic angiogram or a coronary angiogram is a process that utilizes X-ray imaging in order to evaluate the blood vessels in your heart. Cardic angiograms are a part of larger procedure termed as cardiac catheterization. Catheterization is a procedure wherein a thin, flexible and long tube is inserted into your body. Heart catheter procedures are used to diagnose as well as treat heart conditions.
Your doctor will suggest an angiogram if you have symptoms of heart conditions, like chest pain, congenital heart disease, blood vessel blockages, heart failure, chest injury, or other pains like aches in your neck, jaw, or arm. An angiogram is also done prior to a surgery that could cause heart problems midway through. Angiograms do carry a little risk, and so these are only done after other non-invasive test like ECG/EKG have been performed.
Angiograms are usually conducted first thing in the morning as you are required to not eat or drink anything at least 8 hours prior to it. Consult your doctor about medications you can or cannot consume before the test. Ask your doctor to review your allergies. You will also need to empty your bladder and take off your eyeglasses/contact lenses, jewelry, and other accessories.
You will need to lie on your back on the X-ray table. An IV line will be inserted in the vein in your arm. Local anesthesia is then administered (groin or arm), and a small incision is made to insert the catheter through the numbed area into a blood vessel or artery and moved to reach the coronary arteries. Throughout the process, you will be told occasionally to hold your breath, move your arms, lie still, or take deep breaths, and you must follow these instructions precisely. An X-ray camera is positioned above the table, and it will capture images around your chest from several angles.
Electrodes will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart rates; a blood pressure cuff will check your blood pressure and a pulse oximeter will keep track of the amount of oxygen in the blood. Once the catheter is positioned, dye is injected through it. This might cause a warm or flushed sensation, but it is nothing to be concerned about. The dye acts as a contrast and highlights the blood vessels allowing for more comprehensive images. The actual procedure takes about 60 to 90 minutes, but pre and post preparations could increase the duration.
Once the procedure is completed, you will be taken to a recovery area for monitoring. Once your vitals are stable, you will be taken to your room and will need to lie flat on the back to prevent bleeding. Drinking plenty of water helps flush out the dye quickly.
An angiogram detects if there are blockages in the coronary arteries (atherosclerosis); it identifies points of blockage in the blood vessel, and evaluates blood flow through blood vessels and heart.