Coronary angiography makes use of specialized dyes and X-rays that help doctors to view inside part of coronary arteries. Coronary arteries are type of arteries that are found in cardiac region. They carry oxygen rich blood or pure blood to the heart. Coronary angiography is carried out to detect presence of plaque or blockages in coronary arteries.
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Plaque in arteries is accumulation of fatty deposits, cholesterol, calcium, fibrin and cellular waste. Plaque deposits in blood vessels can make the blood vessels narrower; thereby affecting blood flow to the heart. Rupture of plaque can harden coronary arteries. Angiography can also be performed to detect presence of congenital (since birth) heart disease.
Before the process of angiography commences, you will be given some suggestions to follow in order to prepare your body for angiography. Doctor will advise you to not eat or drink anything for at least 4 hours before angiography. Medications such as aspirin, aspirin products or blood thinners are prohibited for few days before the test and for a day after the test. Inform doctor beforehand if you allergic to dyes.
Radiologist or a doctor will administer local anesthesia to perform coronary angiography. Cardiac catheterization is a procedure that is used to inject dye into the coronary arteries. Catheter- a thin, flexible tube is inserted into the body through an incision that is made in arm, neck or groin region. From there, it is guided towards cardiovascular region. Once it reaches cardiac region, dye is released into the bloodstream. X-ray images are captured as dye flows through the bloodstream. Doctors examine these X-ray images for detail analysis of coronary arteries. With the help of these images, they understand location and dimensions of blockage.
It usually takes less than an hour to perform the complete procedure of coronary angiography. It may take 1-2 hours if the angiography advances to angioplasty. It is considered an extremely safe test. However, complications may occur, but chances of them occurring are less than 1%. It rarely leads to severe complications.
Post angiography, you may need to stay overnight in the hospital. You may as well feel sore in the area where incision was made. There may be chances of bleeding at catheter insertion site. Nurses will regularly monitor your blood pressure and check your heart rate. You will be advised to take bed rest at least for few hours to avoid bleeding where incision was made.