An angiogram also known as a coronary angiogram or a cardiac catheterisation is an imaging test that uses x-rays to view your body's blood vessels. Angiogram uses a special dye and camera (fluoroscopy) to take pictures of the blood flow in an artery (such as the aorta) or a vein (such as the vena cava). An angiogram can be used to look at the arteries or veins in the head, arms, legs, chest, back, or belly.
Common angiograms can look at the arteries near the heart (coronary angiogram), lungs (pulmonary angiogram), brain (cerebral angiogram), head and neck (carotid angiogram), legs or arms (peripheral), and the aorta (aortogram).
The procedure helps your doctor to decide what treatment you might need. It can also give information about how effectively your heart is pumping and about the blood pressure inside your heart. An angiogram can find a bulge in a blood vessel (aneurysm). It can also show narrowing or a blockage in a blood vessel that affects blood flow. An angiogram can show if coronary artery disease is present and how bad it is.
You are not allowed to eat or drink anything for a few hours before your angiogram takes place. This test is done in a cath lab and test can last for half an hour, although it can sometimes take longer. During an angiogram, you'll be given a local anesthetic in the arm or groin, a thin tube called a catheter is placed into a blood vessel in the groin (femoral artery or vein) or just above the elbow (brachial artery or vein). The catheter is guided to the area to be studied. Then an iodine dye (contrast material) is injected into the vessel to make the area clearly visible on the X-ray pictures. This method is known as conventional or catheter angiogram. The angiogram pictures can be made into regular X-ray films or stored as digital pictures in a computer.
After the procedure, the catheter will be removed and you might have a small amount of bleeding. In this case, the nurse or doctor will press on the site for a little while or insert a plug called an angioseal. You may have to stay in bed for a short time, but most people are able to go home on the same day while some may have to stay longer in the hospital.
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