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Cardiac catheterisation and coronary angiography

Cardiac catheterisation is a medical procedure carried out before coronary angiography is done to help provide doctors with information about the structure of a person's heart and how well it is working.

During cardiac catheterisation, a long, narrow tube is inserted into a blood vessel in the arm or leg and guided to the heart with the aid of X-ray monitoring.

Contrast dye is injected through the catheter so that X-ray videos of your valves, coronary arteries, and heart chambers can be created.

Why do I need a coronary angiogram?

Your doctor uses coronary angiogram to:

Procedures to open blocked arteries may be carried out after the diagnostic part of the coronary angiogram is complete. Interventional procedures include balloon angioplasty and stent placement. Rarely, more complicated procedures, such as brachytherapy, atherectomy, rotoblation and cutting balloon are done.

What are the risks associated with a coronary angiogram

A coronary angiogram is generally safe. However, as with any invasive procedure, there are risks. Special precautions are taken to decrease these risks. Your doctor will discuss the risks of the procedure with you.

Risks of a coronary angiogram are rare but can include:

Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you may have before undergoing the procedure.

How should I prepare for an angiogram?

  • For a coronary angiogram, most people need to have a routine chest X-ray, blood tests, electrocardiogram and urine analysis performed within two weeks beforehand.
  • You can wear whatever you like to the hospital. You wear a hospital gown during the procedure.
  • Leave all valuables at home. If you normally wear dentures, glasses, or a hearing device, plan to wear them during the coronary angiogram.
  • Your doctor or nurse will give you specific instructions about what you can and cannot eat or drink before the procedure.
  • Tell your doctor all the medications you are currently taking, including herbal products and dietary supplements.
  • Ask your doctor what drugs should be taken on the day of your coronary angiogram. You may be told to stop taking certain medications, such as warfarin (a blood thinner), for a few days before the procedure.
  • If you have diabetes, ask your doctor how to adjust your diabetes drugs the day of your test.
  • Tell your doctor or nurses if you are allergic to anything, especially iodine, shellfish, X-ray dye, latex, or rubber products (such as rubber gloves or balloons) or penicillin-type medications.
  • You may not return home the day of your procedure. Bring items with you (such as a dressing gown, slippers, and toothbrush) to make your stay more comfortable. When you are able to return home, arrange for someone to take you.
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