Test: Coronary Angiography

Coronary angiography is used to image the arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood. Angiography can image narrowed or blocked coronary arteries, which are not visible on a normal X-ray. A local anaesthetic is injected, and a fine, flexible catheter is passed into the femoral artery, through the aorta, and into a coronary artery. Contrast dye is injected through the catheter, and a series of X-rays is taken. The procedure is painless, but you may feel a flushing sensation as the dye is injected.

During the procedure

The catheter is positioned in the heart so that its tip rests in a coronary artery, and contrast dye is then injected. The artery and the small vessels leading from it are visualized by a series of X-rays. The catheter may be repositioned and the procedure repeated to check all the coronary arteries.

Route of catheter

Results

Coronary artery disease

This angiogram of the heart shows a section of coronary artery that has become narrowed by coronary artery disease, restricting blood flow.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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