Coronary Angiography

The coronary arteries supply heart muscles with blood. They can become blocked by a plaque (buildup of cells), fat or other substances, reducing the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. A coronary angiography is used to detect blockages in the coronary arteries by using a special contrast dye or an x-ray.

Coronary Angiography


A test can tell not only if a patient’s coronary arteries are clogged or have become narrowed, but also where and by how much. It is important to detect blockages because they can cause chest pains or even a heart attack if left untreated. Testing helps doctors to organize a patient-specific treatment plan specific to a patient's needs and conditions, which may include an angioplasty, a stent or a coronary artery by-pass. Coronary angioplasty may be performed if a patient has :

  • Had an instance of angina
  • Unstable angina
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Atypical chest pains
  • Received abnormal heart stress test results
  • A high risk of coronary artery disease before surgery
  • Had a heart failure diagnosis
  • Had a heart attack diagnosis

How is it performed?

  1. The patient will stay awake so that they are able to follow the doctor’s instructions but will take medicine to remain relaxed during the procedure.
  2. Often, a coronary angiography is performed with a cardiac catheterization procedure.
  3. The patient needs to lie on his/her back on a movable table near a camera.
  4. A doctor will numb an area on the arm, groin, upper thigh or neck and insert a thin tube (catheter) into a peripheral artery and direct it towards the heart.
  5. After the catheter is in place, the doctor will inject a special solution which passes through the catheter to highlight blockages. All blood vessels and heart chambers can then be seen on X-ray images.
  6. By studying X-ray images, the doctor can see any problems with the patient’s coronary arteries.

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