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Reasons, Procedure and Risks Involved With Coronary Angiography

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What is Coronary Angiography?

Coronary Angiography is a medical procedure where an X-ray examination is done of your blood vessels and the chambers of the heart, by injecting them with a contrasting dye.  This dye is passed by means of a catheter which is inserted into a blood vessel and leads up to the heart. The contrasting color of the dye shows up in the X-ray picture which is called an angiogram.

Reasons Why It is Conducted

A coronary angiography is usually advised if you are suffering from atypical chest pain, unexplained heart failure or if you have aortic stenosis or an unstable angina. It helps to find any blockages in your coronary arteries, which could cause a heart attack.

Procedure

  • You will be told not to eat or drink anything at least 8 hours before the test.
  • You should inform your doctor if you are pregnant, if you are taking Viagra, or if you are allergic to seafood or any dye substances.
  • Before the test, you will be given a sedative.
  • A catheter will be inserted either through a blood vessel in your thigh or arm. This area will numbed with a mild anesthetic. The catheter will carefully be moved through the artery and positioned near the heart.
  • The dye will then be injected into the catheter and the X-ray images help to highlight any blockages in the flow of blood.
  • The entire procedure would take almost one hour.

During Coronary Angiography

  • You remain awake for the duration of the test.
  • You may feel a little pressure when the catheter is inserted and again when it is removed at the end of the test.
  • Some people feel a mild flushing sensation when the dye is injected.

Risks Involved

After the test is over, you may be advised to lie down for some time.

Although angiography is a safe procedure, the process of catheterization may carry a few risks.

  • Sometimes, infection, pain or bleeding can occur at the site where the catheter was inserted.
  • Sometimes, the catheters which are made of plastic could cause trauma or damage to the blood vessels.
  • Blood clots sometimes form on the catheter, and later block a blood vessel.
  • Some people may be allergic to the dye material, and it can also cause damage to the kidneys, especially if the patient is diabetic.
  • In a few occasions, this procedure has been known to cause low blood pressure, and sometimes even a stroke or a heart attack.
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