Cardiac Angiogram

An cardiac angiogram is a procedure that can help to diagnose heart conditions. It involves putting a long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter into a blood vessel in your groin or wrist. The catheter is then guided to your heart and a special dye (contrast agent) is injected through the catheter, so that X-ray images show your heart and coronary arteries more clearly.

What happens?

An angiography is carried out in hospital. It takes between 30 minutes and two hours, depending on the complexity of the investigation. You will usually be allowed to go home on the same day, although in some cases you may need to stay in hospital overnight.

A very thin catheter is inserted into one of your arteries through a small cut in your groin or your leg. A radiologist (a doctor who specialises in imaging studies) will guide the catheter into the area that needs to be examined. The dye (medically known as a contrast dye or contrast medium) is injected through the catheter and into the blood vessel. A series of X-rays is then taken.

What are the risks?

An angiography is a generally safe and painless procedure. The risks of serious complications are low. Sometimes, an angiography can cause minor bruising where the catheter is inserted. Also, some people may occasionally have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye. This is usually easily treated with medication.