Coronary Angiography (Radial)
Coronary angiography is a gold standard diagnostic imaging procedure for detecting, evaluating and assessing coronary blockage.
The procedure involves special x-ray techniques to generate images of the blood vessels. These images are commonly known as angiograms. Coronary angiography can help to detect narrow, obstructed and deformed arteries in the heart.
Who requires coronary angiography?
Coronary angiography is usually recommended to patients who are at increased risks of a heart attack which includes people with:
- Persistent and unstable chest pain (angina)
- Unexplained pain in the neck, jaw, arm or chest, especially on the left side
- Congenital heart defects
- Severe injury or impact to the heart
- Abnormalities in the heart stress test
How to prepare for the test
While the procedure can be performed on an emergency basis in certain cases, it is usually pre-scheduled so as to give the patients some time to prepare. The patient is given a set of instructions that are to be followed religiously. People who are on any medication need to inform the doctor about the same.
Here are a few guidelines that you need to follow:
- The patient should not eat or drink anything starting 12 hours prior to the test.
- Do not take any medication without the prior notice of your doctor
- carry your medicines along
- Patients who are on insulin need to ask their doctors whether they can take their daily dosage or not
- The patient is required to empty his/her bladder and wear a hospital gown
- All the metallic items, pins, jewellery, glasses are to be removed before the test.
The patient is required to lie down on the table on his/her back. Safety straps may be fastened around your chest and legs as the table is tilted during the procedure to take x-rays from better angles. Since the procedure is carried out while the patient is in a sedated state, doctors may administer sedatives and other medication intravenously.
Electrodes will be placed on the chest to monitor heart function. Apart from this, necessary measures will also be taken to monitor your blood pressure and the levels of oxygen in the body. The catheter is introduced through the groin or via a small incision on the patient’s chest. The concerned area will be numbed using local anaesthetics such that the patient does not feel any pain or discomfort. The contrast material is slowly injected into the catheter following which the x-ray images are taken to monitor the flow of blood and detect any obstruction. The whole procedure lasts for about an hour.
What happens after the procedure?
Once the procedure is over, the catheter is carefully removed and the incision site is covered. The patient is taken to the recovery area where he/she is monitored for any complication. Once the patient is stable he/she can be shifted to his own room.
Some important guidelines that are to be followed after the procedure include:
- The patient is required to lie flat for several hours to avoid bleeding especially is the catheter was introduced via the groin.
- While some patients are discharged on the same day, others might be required to stay overnight.
- It is important to take plenty of fluids so as to get rid of the residual dye present in the body.
- Avoid heavy meals and eat something light on the first day.
- It is important to refrain from indulging in vigorous activities for a few days.
Benefits of coronary angiography
Here are a few benefits of coronary angiography:
- It helps to detect the narrowing or obstruction of the coronary artery, thereby aiding the doctors in figuring out the best corrective treatment.
- It generates very precise results.
- It can help to detect the blockage even before the symptoms are evident, thereby reducing the risks of cardiac arrest.
- It involves minimal to no discomfort as the dye is given intravenously.
- It can help to monitor the flow of blood via the coronary artery as well as determine how much blood flow has been affected
- Patients who have undergone coronary bypass surgery in the past can undergo the procedure to determine whether the surgery is successful.
Are there any risks involved?
Just like any other medical procedure, coronary angiography too comes with slight risks that include:
- Damage to the concerned artery
- Allergic reaction to the contrast material used during the procedure
- Renal damage
- Internal bleeding
- Slightly increased risks of stroke.