How a Coronary Angiogram is Performed and When?

In layman term, Angiogram is X-ray imaging of blood vessels.

Blood vessels don’t show up in X-rays. Hence, an Angiogram is required to look at blood vessels.

An Angiogram can be performed in any region. However, it is mostly associated with heart.

When Coronary Angiogram is Recommended?

When you have an episode of Angina or heart attack, Angiogram is recommended. Angiogram helps your cardiologist to find blocked coronary arteries. If any of the block(s), commonly called plaque or atherosclerosis, is more than 75% of blood vessel, a surgery is recommended.

How it is Performed?

Procedure is performed on an X-ray table. Since, the table will tilt during X-ray imaging, your legs and arms may be fastened to safety straps.

Blood pressure cuff to monitor your BP, Electrodes on your chest to monitor your heart rate and an oximeter to measure amount of oxygen in your blood are attached.

You will be given anticoagulant medication so that blood does not clot on catheter.

Local anesthetic is used for adults while for children general anesthetic is used.

Note: Local anesthetic numbs a certain area of body while general anesthetic creates a state of unconsciousness.

An incision is made on your arm or groin. Through this incision, a catheter is passed up to your coronary artery (just above your heart). A contrasting material (called dye) is injected.

When the dye passes through coronary arteries X-ray images are taken from various angles.

Comparing amount of blood flow in the arteries (using X-ray images), your cardiologist will find blocked area. A closer examination will reveal blocked percentage in your coronary artery.

As stated earlier, if more than 75% of artery is blocked, a surgery is recommended. It can be either angioplasty or bypass surgery.

What are the Risks Involved?

  1. You might be allergic to dye. Usually its rash or itching sensation. Before angiogram is taken tell your doctor if you are allergic to Iodine.
  2. The incision part may bleed.
  3. If you have kidney problems chances of iodine dye damaging your kidney are high.

After Angiogram is Done:

For 10 days or more the incision area will remain sore. It will take around 4 weeks for the incision area to resolve completely.

After 24 hours of Angiogram you can regain normal activity (unless you are advised to rest).