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Coronary Angiography

Male figure showing heart and arteries. Catheter goes from artery in thigh to heart.
The catheter can be placed into the groin, arm, or wrist.
Angiography is a special type of X-ray that lets your doctor view your coronary arteries to see if the blood vessels to your heart are narrowed or blocked.

 Before the procedure

  • Tell your doctor what medicines you take and any allergies you may have.

  • Tell your doctor if you've had a reaction to contrast dye or have had any kidney problems.

  • Don’t eat or drink anything for at least 6 to 8 hours before the procedure. You will likely be told not to have anything after midnight, the night before the procedure.

  • A nurse will place an IV catheter in your vein to give fluids, and medicine to relieve pain and help you feel less anxious.

  • He or she will clean your skin and, if necessary, shave the area where the catheter will be inserted.

During the procedure

  • Your doctor will place a long, thin tube called a catheter inside an artery in your groin or arm and guide it into your heart.

  • He or she will inject a contrast dye through the catheter into your blood vessels or heart chambers.

  • X-rays are taken to show images of the inside of your heart and coronary arteries.

After the procedure

  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you how long to lie down and keep the insertion site still.

  • If the insertion site was in your groin, you may need to lie down with your leg still for several hours. If bleeding occurs, a nurse will apply pressure to the area to control it.

  • A nurse will check your blood pressure and the insertion site frequently to make sure you remain stable after the procedure.

  • You may be asked to drink fluid to help flush the contrast liquid out of your system.

  • Have someone drive you home from the hospital.

  • If your doctor uses angioplasty to treat a blocked artery, you will stay the night in the hospital.

  • It’s normal to find a small bruise or lump at the insertion site. The lump may be the collagen plug or stitch that you feel, or a small bruise. These common side effects should disappear within a few weeks.

When to call your healthcare provider

Contact your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Chest pain

  • Pain, swelling, redness, bleeding, or drainage at the insertion site

  • Severe pain, coldness, or a bluish color in the leg or arm that held the catheter

  • Fever over 100.4°F (38°C)

Online Medical Reviewer: Gandelman, Glenn, MD, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Image reviewed by StayWell medical illustration team.
Online Medical Reviewer: Snyder, Mandy, APRN
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2016
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