Angiography at Drexel Cardiology
Coronary angiography is a procedure used to evaluate blood flow through the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. It combines a technique known as cardiac catheterization with fluoroscopy, an X-ray modality. The procedure produces real-time images of the heart and blood vessels on a monitor screen.
The study is done to confirm suspicion of coronary artery disease, the buildup of plaque and fatty deposits that can impede blood flow through the coronary arteries. If present, the test helps physicians determine the most appropriate treatment. Indications for cardiac catheterization include chest pain, or signs that suggest heart disease, such as a positive stress test or EKG.
In addition to being a diagnostic technique, coronary angiography plays an important role in procedures used to treat blocked arteries, such as angioplasty and stenting.
The Coronary Angiography Procedure
Patients usually receive a mild sedative but remain awake and able to follow instructions throughout the study. An intravenous (IV) line is placed in the arm or groin, and a small tube, or catheter, is threaded through the blood vessel to the coronary arteries. Dye or other contrast material is then injected through the line, and images are recorded. The contrast material helps to highlight any areas where blood flow to the heart is blocked.
Angiography may last from 45 minutes to several hours. Afterward, the catheter is removed and firm pressure is applied at the insertion site to control bleeding. Patients must lie flat for several hours to prevent bleeding from the area where the catheter was inserted. Most remain under observation in the hospital for several hours or overnight.
Preparation for a Coronary Angiography
Before the study begins, patients should alert their physician if they are allergic to seafood or have ever had a bad reaction to contrast material. Women should also tell a staff person if there is any possibility that they might be pregnant because the test should not be performed during pregnancy.
Many cardiac catheterization procedures take place as emergency procedures. However, if the procedure is planned, patients should not eat or drink for eight hours before the test, and they should discuss with their physician how to adjust their medications prior to the study. Also, persons with diabetes should ask their physician how to adjust their insulin dosage.
Recovery from a Coronary Angiography
After discharge, patients are typically instructed to avoid lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds for several days, drink plenty of water, not to shower for 24 hours and avoid tub baths for a few days, and immediately report any of the following symptoms in the leg or arm where the catheter was placed: pain, swelling, redness, coldness, numbness, blue discoloration, or drainage at the catheter insertion site. Other serious symptoms include fever or shortness of breath.
Drexel Interventional Cardiology Specialist
Gary Ledley, MD
Specialties: Cardiology and General Internal Medicine
The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.