What is it?
Angiography is an x-ray technique where dye is injected into the chambers of your heart or the arteries that lead to your heart (the coronary arteries). Most of the time, the coronary arteries can’t be seen on an x-ray. During coronary angiography, a special dye is injected into the bloodstream to make the coronary arteries show up on an x-ray called an angiogram.
How does it work?
An angiogram is used to record the movement of dye through the heart and coronary arteries and is viewed on a television monitor during cardiac catheterization. Doctors perform a cardiac catheterization procedure in which a long, thin tube is put into an artery in the leg and threaded into the heart. Once the catheter is in place in the heart, a dye is injected through the catheter and into the heart. The dye helps doctors see how the heart chambers and the coronary arteries are working.
Reasons for cardiac angiography
Coronary angiography shows if you have coronary artery disease and are at risk for angina and a heart attack. If coronary artery disease is present, cardiac catheterization is used to determine whether bypass surgery will be done, or a procedure such as angioplasty or stenting. Cardiac angiography along with cardiac catheterization is performed to check:
- Blood flow and blood pressure in the chambers of the heart
- Blood flow in the coronary arteries
- Pumping action of the heart
- Severity of congenital heart defect
- How well the heart valves work
What to expect
Cardiologists usually perform cardiac angiograms and catheterizations in a hospital. You’re awake during the procedure which usually causes little to no pain. Some soreness in the blood vessel where the doctor put the catheter may occur after the procedure is complete.
Cardiac angiography and catheterization rarely causes serious complications.