Angiogram

What Is Coronary Angiography?

Coronary angiography (an-jee-OG-ra-fee) is a test that uses dye and special x rays to show the inside of your coronary arteries. The coronary arteries supply blood and oxygen to your heart.

A material called plaque (plak) can build up on the inside walls of the coronary arteries and cause them to narrow. When this happens, it’s called coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD can prevent enough blood from flowing to your heart and can lead to angina (an-JI-nuh or AN-juh-nuh) (chest discomfort or pain) and heart attack. Coronary angiography shows if you have CAD.

Most of the time, the coronary arteries can’t be seen on an x ray. During coronary angiography, a special dye is injected into the bloodstream to make the coronary arteries show up on an x ray.

To deliver the dye to your coronary arteries, a procedure called cardiac catheterization (KATH-e-ter-i-ZA-shun) is used. A long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter is put into a blood vessel in your arm, groin (upper thigh), or neck. The tube is then threaded into your coronary arteries, and the dye is injected into your bloodstream. Special x rays are taken while the dye is flowing through the coronary arteries.

Cardiologists (doctors who specialize in heart problems) usually perform cardiac catheterizations in a hospital. You’re awake during cardiac catheterization. The procedure usually causes little to no pain, although you may feel some soreness in the blood vessel where your doctor put the catheter. Cardiac catheterization rarely causes serious complications.

March 2007

Disclaimer: Consult a physician before beginning any diet, nutrition or exercise program. The information on this website is not intended to replace medical advice or a relationship with a qualified doctor or health care professional. It is not intended as medical advice of any kind. Individual articles and information are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The views represented by contributing authors do not necessarily reflect those of Keith Ahrens or his associates. Some content has been reprinted with permission, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. No part of this website may be reproduced without the expressed written permission of Keith A. Ahrens.