What is Coronary Angiography?
Coronary Angiography is a procedure, which is done to examine the coronary arteries of the patient’s heart.
Angiography is a technique that uses medical imaging to view the organs and blood vessels of the patient’s body. This is particularly performed to view the veins, arteries, and heart chambers to diagnose blockages and other problems. It is done by using an X-Ray based technique, like fluoroscopy (Immediately obtains moving pictures using X-Ray).
A contrast agent like a special dye is injected in the blood stream via a catheter (thin plastic tube), which highlights the blood vessels.The blood vessels materialize in white on the angiogram as they move. Then a few X-Rays are taken and studied.
Coronary Angiography is one of the most common types of angiogram performed. Exceptionally fast scanners are used to obtain images in this test. Before the test is performed, local anesthesia is given to the patient and a catheter is passed through an artery in the arm or groin, which is then infused with a contrast agent. Post this, X-Ray images are taken out, which gives a thorough view of the blood vessels innards.
Why is Coronary Angiography performed?
According to a renowned cardiologist in Chennai, coronary angiography is performed for various reasons, like:
- Angina – Chest pain or any kind of discomfort.
- Unstable Angina – When chest pain becomes worse and occurs more often.
- Unexplained pain in the chest, arm, jaw, or neck.
- Coronary thrombosis or Blood clots
- Congenital heart disease – Defect in heart present from birth.
- Chest injury or other problems with blood vessels.
- Unusual chest pain even when all the tests are normal.
- Problem with heart valve that requires surgery.
- Heart failure
- Atypical results of heart stress test
- After a recent heart attack.
- If you are going to have a surgery in which you have a high chance of getting a heart attack or other problems related to heart.
Read about Symptoms of Heart Attack.
Who performs Coronary Angiography?
Coronary angiography is performed by an experienced cardiologist (a doctor specializing in heart conditions), and a radiographer (a professional who carries out the imaging process). There is also a nurse present who stays with the patient.
This procedure takes place in a catheterization laboratory (also known as cath-lab), which looks like an operation theater. The lab is either in a clinic or a hospital, and it includes all the imaging equipment required to carry out the procedure.
Coronary angiography is of 2 types:
- Catheter coronary angiography – In this procedure, a catheter is guided into your artery in your arm or groin. The catheter is moved towards the opening of your coronary arteries, and then injected with a contrast agent. Then, X-Rays of the blood vessels are taken.
- Non-invasive coronary angiography – In this procedure a catheter is not used, instead imaging tests like an ultrasound or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), or CT (Computed Tomography) are done to take an X-Ray of the blood vessels. Unlike ultrasound and MRI, the patient is exposed to radiation in a CT scan.
How long does it take?
Angiography usually takes 30 to 60 minutes to be performed. It depends on how complex the examination is. Furthermore, the patient might be required to stay in the hospital for up to 4 hours after the procedure is completed as he/she might still be under the influence of sedatives.
How to prepare for Angiography?
To prepare for an Angiography, you should tell the doctor if:
- You are or might be pregnant.
- You are breast feeding (Do not feed your baby for a day or two, as the dye might still be in your system)
- You have any allergies
- You have asthma
- You have any diseases (like diabetes) and what medications youare on.
Further, you should:
- Abstain from eating anything solid after midnight on the day your angiography is scheduled to take place.
- Avoid drinking any liquid 3 – 4 hours before the exam.
- Stop any ongoing medications if instructed by the doctor a day or two before the procedure takes place.
- Bring someone to take you home, as you might be under the influence of sedatives.
- Take certain blood tests (like BUN, creatinine etc.) as instructed by your doctor.
- Remove jewellery and other accessories before the angiography starts.
- Empty your bladder as the test might take some time.
- Ask the doctor if you have any concerns regarding the procedure.
What are the possible risks of Angiography?
- Angiography is usually a safe procedure, but there might be some risks related to it. If some complication occurs during the test, then it is stopped and treatment is given (sometimes it includes surgery).
- The iodine dye might stimulate an allergic reaction, which can be treated by medication.
- There might be swelling, pain, formation of blood clot, or bleeding in the area where the catheter was inserted.
- There might be damage to a blood vessel because of the catheter.
- Due to the use of iodine dye, there is a chance of the kidney getting damaged or there might be loss of water (dehydration).
- Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat might be caused because of the catheter or dye. It usually settles at the end of the test.
- There is a very rare chance of getting a heart attack or stroke, and sometimes even fatality.
What is average cost of Angiography?
The cost of angiography ranges from Rs. 12,000 – 22,000.
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