What to Expect During an Angiogram
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What to Expect During an Angiogram

What you can expect during an angiogram

An angiogram is a procedure that utilizes digital X-ray imaging to see your heart's arteries. Angiograms are a component of a comprehensive group of procedures generally known as cardiac catheterization.

An angiogram can find aneurysms, display blockage in a blood vessel that obstructs blood flow or show if coronary artery disease is present.

During an angiogram, a form of dye which is visible to an X-ray machine is administered. As with many procedures performed on the heart, an angiogram possesses various risks. Possible risks and complications include cardiac arrest, stroke, infection, renal system failure, thrombus or arterial hemorrhage.

An  angiogram is executed in the catheterization (cath) lab of a hospital. Generally you visit the hospital the morning of the procedure. Your health care staff will provide you with specific guidelines and speak to you regarding any medications you are taking.

An angiogram is performed by a radiologist. The radiologist may be assisted a radiology technician or registered nurse. They will ask you to remove all jewelry and take off your clothing. You will be provided with a gown to wear during the procedure.

An intravenous (IV) line is placed into a vein in your upper extremity. You might be offered a sedative that will help you relax, along with other medications and fluids. You will be conscious throughout the procedure so you can follow instructions. During the procedure you will be asked to inhale deeply, hold your breath, cough or put your arms in a variety of positions.

Electrodes on your upper body monitor your heart during the entire procedure. A hypertension cuff tracks your blood pressure and a pulse oximeter, calculates the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream. You will be given anticoagulants to help prevent blood clots on the catheter.

A small amount of hair might be shaved from the groin or arm where the catheter will be inserted. The area is cleaned and disinfected then numbed with an injection of local anesthetic. A minor incision is made at the opening and a short plastic tube sheath is inserted into the artery. The catheter is inserted through the sheath into your vein and cautiously threaded to your coronary arteries.

Inserting the catheter should not hurt and you will not feel it traveling through your body. Dye (contrast material) is then injected through the catheter. When this occurs, you might have a brief sensation of flushing or warmth. Do not be frightened if you feel your heart skipping beats - this is a frequent occurrence during angiograms.

The dye is easily viewed on X-ray images, as it passes through your arteries, your physician can monitor its flow and identify any obstructions. In some cases, a method called interventional radiology may be used during an angiogram to treat problems. For example, a catheter can be used to open a blocked blood vessel, deliver medicine to a tumor, or stop intestinal bleeding caused by diverticulitis hemorrhage.

Getting an angiogram usually takes about 60 minutes, although it could be longer, especially when combined with other heart catheter procedures. Remember to tell your physician if you feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure.

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Comments (7)

Well presented one. You have given us a detailed info about this medical procedure.

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