Invasive Coronary angiography

Why is it done?

A coronary angiogram is an invasive test that allows a direct view of the coronary arteries or blood vessels supplying the heart. It is used most commonly when a Cardiologist (or Heart Doctor) suspects that a patient may have underlying coronary artery disease.

What does the procedure involve?

This test is seen as the ‘gold-standard’ for diagnosis of coronary artery disease. The procedure involves the insertion of a small tube, or catheter, up an artery or blood vessel from the heart, either in the groin or in the wrist, under local anaesthetic.  Once the catheter is advanced to the aorta, where the coronary arteries originate, the catheter is manipulated to enter into each coronary artery.  A contrast dye, usually containing Iodine, is then injected and x-ray images are taken and stored for interpretation.  This takes on average 20-30 minutes depending on the complexity of the procedure.

What are the potential complications?

Potential complications from this procedure include bruising or bleeding at the entry site of the catheter and infection (approximately 1%).  Other more serious complications are rare (approximately 0.1%). This includes arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, stroke, kidney failure, vascular complications and death.



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