How does an angiogram work?

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Your cardiologist performs an angiogram to "see" any blockages in the coronary arteries, the vessels through which blood flows to your heart muscle. To get this special view, a catheter (a small, flexible tube) is inserted into a large vessel in your upper thigh or arm, and then guided through the arteries to the heart. A special “contrast” dye is injected into the catheter and to the coronary arteries and heart.

The dye makes it possible for an x-ray camera to record a “movie” of your heart and its arteries. The movie, which you and your doctor may view on the TV screen, shows blood flow through the arteries of the heart and the location of any blockages. The angiogram also provides details about the size and shape of any blockages. This information is critical because it helps the cardiologist plan the best approach for treating each blockage.