Coronary angiography

What is Coronary Angiography?

Coronary angiography is an imaging test used to see the coronary arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. It is used to detect blockages within the coronary arteries and assess associated conditions such as coronary artery disease, heart valve disorders, and aneurysms. The procedure is also known as coronary arteriography or cardiac catheterization.

Preparation for Coronary Angiography

Prior to undergoing coronary angiography, certain steps must be taken in preparation. Bloodwork, a physical examination, and an electrocardiogram, will typically be performed before the procedure. Additionally, the patient must refrain from eating or drinking anything 8-12 hours before the procedure.

Procedure for Coronary Angiography

Coronary angiography is usually done in a hospital or clinic by an interventional radiologist. The patient is usually under conscious sedation while the procedure is done, which prevents feeling pain or discomfort. A catheter is usually inserted into an artery in the leg or arm and is then guided into the coronary arteries. Once in position, a contrast material is injected into the artery and X-rays are taken to produce a detailed image of the coronary artery and any blockages.

Types of Coronary Angiography

  • Coronary Angiography with Biplane Fluoroscopy: The most common technique used and the most reliable for detecting heart disease and evaluating stenosis
  • Computed Tomography Coronary Angiography (CTCA): Utilizes a CT scan instead of X-rays to develop an image of the coronary arteries
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA): Uses a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the coronary arteries
  • Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (MPI): Utilizes nuclear medicine to image the patient’s myocardium (heart muscle)

Risks of Coronary Angiography

Coronary angiography is a safe procedure; however, there are some potential risks associated with the procedure. These include allergic reaction to the contrast dye, kidney damage, bleeding at the catheter insertion site, heart attack, and stroke.

Why Perform Coronary Angiography?

Coronary angiography is a useful diagnostic tool for evaluating blockages in the coronary arteries and related cardiac conditions such as coronary artery disease, aneurysms, and certain types of heart valve disorders. Additionally, it is used to guide additional interventions such as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), an angioplasty, or coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) if the blockage is severe.

When to Perform Coronary Angiography

Coronary angiography should be considered for patients with suspected coronary artery disease or if they are experiencing chest pain or other symptoms related to coronary artery disease. It can also be used for pre-operative assessment and planning before cardiac surgery.