Coronary angiogram also called coronary angiography is a minimally invasive method that uses a kind of contrast medium and X-ray pictures to detect blockages in the coronary arteries caused by plaque build-up. Coronary artery blockage is dangerous because they prevent the heart from getting oxygenated blood essential for proper functioning. Thus, coronary angiogram helps doctors in planning treatment procedure in case of heart blockages.
Procedure of Coronary Angiogram
The coronary angiogram is performed in a specialized angiography suite situated in a hospital. It is done by a team of doctors, including a cardiologist and nurses. The patient might be asked to change into the surgical gown provided.
- The patient will have to lie back on the X-ray table and safety straps will be fastened across the chest and the legs.
- The nurse will insert an IV line into the vein of the arm. The patient might be given sedatives through this IV line which will help him stay relaxed and calm. The sedative may make the patient feel drowsy. Nevertheless, the patient will be awake throughout the procedure.
- A catheter, which is nothing but a flexible tube, has to be inserted into the groin or arm. For this, the area through which it has to be inserted will be shaved, washed and disinfected.
- Then the area will be numbed with an injection of local anaesthetic so that the patient does not feel any pain during the invasion.
- An incision will be made in the numbed area to insert the catheter. The catheter will be gradually directed into the coronary artery up to the heart.
- A special kind of contrast dye, which is basically iodine dye, will be injected through the catheter which travels through the artery. This is done so that the arteries can show up well under the X-ray, as the iodine dye is radio-opaque.
- A series of X-ray pictures from different angles will be taken from different angles as the dye will flow through the arteries.
- At times the patient may be asked to hold breath or to cough.
- By studying these X-ray images so taken, blockages can be detected.
- It has to be remembered that during the whole procedure the patient's blood pressure, heart rate and other body functions are monitored carefully.
What Happens After the X-ray Images Are Taken?
Once the desired number of images from various angles is taken, the catheter will be removed and the incision so made will be closed with manual pressure or clamp. The patient will be taken to a recovery area for monitoring. When the condition gets stabled, the patient will be returned to the room for rest of the observation. The patient will be asked to lie flat on his back for several hours to prevent bleeding from the incision point. Usually, the patient may be able to go home on the same day, but he might have to stay overnight if his condition demands the same. The Patient will be given a lot of fluids to drink which will help in flushing out the iodine dye from the body through urine. The healthcare team will provide further information regarding when to resume bathing, and be taking medicines. The patient will be advised to avoid strenuous activities for a week or so. The incision site might take few weeks to heal completely.
How to Prepare For A Coronary Angiogram?
The general guidelines for preparation include-
- The patient should not drink anything after midnight before the test.
- Patient should take all medications and prescriptions to the coronary angiogram test.
The healthcare team will provide specific guidelines to every patient before the schedule of the coronary angiogram test.
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