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Coronary Artery Angiography (Cardiac Catheterization)
Coronary artery angiography is an x-ray test of the heart.
This test can view blood vessels in your heart, called coronary arteries.
It can find out if a waxy substance, called plaque, has narrowed these vessels.
And, it can show how well the valves and chambers of your heart are working.
Coronary angiography is often done with a medical procedure called cardiac catheterization.
Before the procedure, you will be placed on a table with an x-ray device, called a fluoroscope.
Usually, cardiac catheterization takes place through the radial artery in your wrist.
This route normally has less bleeding and complications.
Sometimes, the femoral artery in your groin may be used instead.
To begin, the doctor will numb the skin in your wrist.
A needle will be inserted into your radial artery.
A wire will be passed through this needle.
The wire will be gently guided through your arteries to your heart.
The needle will be taken out and replaced with a small flexible tube, called a sheath.
This permits access to your radial artery.
Next, a soft, flexible tube, called a catheter, will be slipped over the wire through the sheath.
The catheter will be threaded up to your heart.
Then, the fluoroscope will be moved around your chest to take x-ray images of your heart.
Your doctor will use the images to check on the catheter.
You may feel pressure as the wire and sheath are put in, but you will not feel them inside your arteries.
Once the catheter reaches your coronary arteries, the wire will be removed.
The catheter tip will be placed just inside each artery to inject a special dye.
This dye allows the fluoroscope to take x-ray pictures of your arteries, called angiograms.
Any blockages will be clearly identified as the arteries fill with dye.
You may feel flushed, or slightly nauseated, when the dye is injected.
At the end of the procedure, the catheter will be removed through your wrist.
A pressure band will be used over the radial artery to prevent bleeding.
Then, the sheath will be removed.
The pressure band will remain on your wrist until bleeding has stopped.
To find out more about coronary angiography, talk to your healthcare provider.