A coronary angiogram is performed to find out more about your heart. It can find out why any coronary arteries are blocked or partially blocked, and how severely they are affected.
A coronary angiogram is performed as a day case procedure, which means there is no need for an overnight stay in hospital. The procedure is usually carried out in a specialist imaging room by your cardiologist and a team of nurses, cardiac technicians, and a radiographer.
The procedure is usually performed under a local anaesthetic, sometimes with sedation. If the procedure is due to be particularly complex, it may be performed under a general anaesthetic.
During the procedure, a flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into an artery either in your groin or your wrist. The catheter is guided to your heart using X-rays. A special contrast dye which shows up on the X-ray is then injected to show your heart and its arteries more clearly. You may feel a slight warm and flushing sensation when the dye is injected.
Throughout the procedure, you will be attached to an ECG to monitor your heart whilst the procedure is being carried out. Once the procedure is complete, the catheter will be removed and a tight dressing will be applied around the area the catheter was inserted. If the catheter was inserted in your groin, the incision may be closed using a collagen plug.
The procedure usually takes between 30-40 minutes to complete.
Your cardiologist or specialist will discuss the procedure with you beforehand, and will advise you whether you need to stop taking any medications.
You may also be asked to refrain from any food or drink before the procedure.
You must arrange someone to take you home after the procedure is complete as you must not drive afterwards.
It is advisable to rest for 24 hours after your coronary angiogram, and avoid any strenuous exercise too. Most people feel back to normal after a day or so, but the area where the catheter was inserted may be tender for a few days, and bruising can last for up to two weeks too.
As with all procedures, there are some side effects and potential risks. Your doctor will discuss any risks with you beforehand.