Coronary angiography is a minimally invasive medical test that enables doctors to visualise the blood vessels around a patient’s heart. By injecting a contrast material such as a dye and using imaging technologies—such as an x-ray, or a computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan—to examine the vessels, cardiologists can then diagnose and treat heart disease. Coronary angiograms are part of a larger group of procedures known as heart (cardiac) catheterisation. A coronary angiogram is the most common type of heart catheterization procedure.
Uses of Coronary Angiography
Your cardiologist might recommend coronary angiography if you have:
- Symptoms of coronary artery disease, such as chest pain (angina)
- New or increasing chest pain (unstable angina)
- Pain in your chest, jaw, neck or arm that cannot be explained by other tests
- A heart defect you were born with (congenital heart disease)
- Heart failure
- A heart valve problem that requires surgery
- Other blood vessel problems
A coronary angiogram can reveal the following results:
- Show the number of coronary arteries that are blocked or narrowed by plaque consisting of fat and cholesterol deposits (atherosclerosis)
- Pinpoint where these blockages are located
- Show the extent of blood flow blocked
- Check the results of previous coronary bypass surgery
An angiogram will help your Singapore heart specialist evaluate the condition of your heart and determine appropriate cardiac treatment (if any). For instance, based on the results, your heart specialist may advise coronary intervention procedures such as a balloon angioplasty to help unblock clogged arteries or an open-heart Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) surgery to circumvent an obstructed blood vessel. Coronary angioplasty or coronary stenting can also be done during an angiogram to avoid requiring another procedure.
Coronary angiograms carry somerisks, but major complications are rare. The benefits of an accurate diagnosis far outweigh the risk. Potential risks include:
- Heart attack
- Injury to the catheterized artery
- Allergic reactions to the dye or medications used
Patients with impaired kidney function, especially those who have diabetes, are not good candidates for this coronary angiography.
After the angiogram is complete, the patient will be taken to a recovery area for observation and monitoring. The patient will need to lie flat for several hours to avoid bleeding. During this time, pressure may be applied to the incision to stopthe bleeding and promote healing.
Patients may be allowed to go home the same day. They should avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting for several days, although they should resume normal activities within a week.