Question & Answers

What is an Angiogram?

Coronary angiogram is the most common among a group of procedures called Cardiac Catheterisations. It is used for taking images of the blood vessels of the heart. This helps in identifying any narrowing or blockages and it is also possible to clear the blocks while this procedure is performed.

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Can a stent be put in during an angiogram?

Yes. While a coronary angiography is being performed if a doctor feels that the blood vessels are dangerously clogged, the block can be removed with the help of an inflatable balloon. Then a cylindrical mesh like structure called a Stent can be placed at the site of narrowing to prevent the blood vessel from closing again.

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What happens during an angiogram?

During an Angiogram, the person is asked to lie down on an operating table and an Intra Venous (IV) line is inserted. Through this IV line an anesthetic is injected to prevent the person from experiencing any pain during the procedure. The operating table has X-Ray cameras surrounding it. A tiny cut is made on the groin and a blood vessel called the Femoral Artery is identified. Through this, an extremely thin wire called a Catheter is passed up to the blood vessels of the heart called coronary arteries. In these coronary arteries, a special chemical called a dye is first injected. Coronary Angiography is entirely a pain-free procedure.

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What happens after the angiogram test?

Once the procedure is complete, the Catheter is slowly withdrawn from the blood vessels and finally removed from the body. The place on the groin from where the Catheter was inserted, will be closed either by applying firm pressure or with the help of a plug to prevent bleeding. As the incision on the groin is very small, sutures are not necessary. Bed rest is adviced for a couple of hours or overnight after the test. It is important to lay flat on the bed for a few hours after an Angigraphy to prevent bleeding from the incision on the groin. It is also essential that the dye that has been injected into the body be eliminated through the kidneys. For this, the person must drink abundant water to help the Kidneys excrete this chemical from the body through the urine.

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How does an angiogram work?

When the dye is injected into the Coronary Arteries, it can be detected by X-Ray machines surrounding the table. As the dye circulates in the Coronary Arteries, a series of images are captured by these X-Ray machines. This helps in identifying where a Coronary Artery is narrowed or blocked. This process of injecting the dye and taking images is repeated multiple times until the doctor is able to identify all the blood vessels that have been blocked.

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How long does the angiogram process take ?

The actual procedure takes approximately one hour to be completed. However, if arteries are blocked at multiple places and as a result if the process had to be repeated, it might take slightly longer. Injecting the anesthetic into the patient's IV line prior to the procedure, steps taken to stop bleeding from the femoral Artery after the procedure, etc will add to the duration of Angiography.

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When would one have an angiogram?

Angiogram is recommended in the following conditions: 1) Chest pain which is suggestive of a heart attack 2) A chest pain already existing but which has suddenly worsened 3) When a person has heart defects from birth 4) When a heart valve has to be repaired 5) When there is a severe injury to the chest and there is a need to assess the blood vessels. However, prior to an Angiogram, tests like an ECG, Echo, Heart Stress Test,etc are performed and if the results suggest a need to assess the heart further, only then an Angiography is performed.

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What Medical issues to consider before having an angiogram?

"Before an Angiogram, every person must discuss with their doctor about their medical conditions like Diabetes, High Blood pressure, Thyroid problems, etc. This is because, these medications might have to be slightly changed in their dose or frequency prior to the procedure. Otherwise, there is a chance of fluctuations in the glucose, minerals and water content in the body during the Angiography. As the dye injected into the veins has to be eliminated by the Kidneys, it is essential that the person not have any Kidney issues. Thus, the kidney functioning is assessed befre the procedure and the doctor will decide whether a person is fit for Angiography or not. Furthermore, an Angiography involves exposure to X-Rays. So it is very important to make sure that the person undergoing this procedure is not pregnant. So, a doctor might ask the woman if she is pregnant and might perform the relevant pregnancy tests if there is a possibility of pregnancy. "

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What potential benefits may an angiogram have?

"An Angiogram can provide valuable information like: 1) How many Coronary Arteries are affected? 2) At how many sites these Coronary Arteries are narrowed? 3) To what extent has the blood flow decreased to the heart? 4) How successful are previous Angiograms and Angioplasties. "

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Is an angiogram painful?

"No. An Angiogram is totally a painless procedure because an anesthetic is injected at the beginning of the process. There is a possibility of some strange sensation or some warmth while the dye is being injected into the arteries. This stage too is never painful. Although a sedative is injected into the person's body, the person is not unconsciouss during the Angiography. Thus, if there any discomfort the person can inform the doctors about this immediately. "

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