An angiogram is a medical diagnostic imaging exam that allows a doctor to view the blood vessels in the body. Coronary angiography – also called cardiac catheterization – is a scan of the blood vessels of the heart.
A radiopaque contrast medium is first injected into the bloodstream, and this allows the targeted structures to stand out in the X-rays taken during the angiogram. The X-ray machine will then take a rapid series of angiogram images, providing a look into the performance of the patient’s blood vessels.
The X-ray scans will show whether there are any restrictions that are hampering natural blood flow. If any clogs are present, the doctor can widen the clogged arteries of the heart with angioplasty during the coronary angiogram.
Why Do I Need an Angiogram?
A doctor may order coronary angiography if a patient is showing signs of coronary artery disease, especially chest pain. If a patient has new or increasing levels of pain in the chest, it could also be a sign of unstable angina – which is pain caused by low blood flow to the heart – so the physician may order an angiogram.
Other reasons for coronary angiography include:
- Unexplained pain in the neck, jaw, or arm
- Abnormal results from a previous angiogram
- Valve problems
- Chest injury
- Congenital heart defects
Although very small, there are risks associated with getting an angiogram. Therefore, the doctor will order other noninvasive measures first, like an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram, before moving ahead with an angiogram.
Treatment Following Coronary Angiography
If heart disease or other complications are found during the angiogram, the doctor will review options available and determine what may be best suited to repair the problem. These repairs may include angioplasty, stents, or coronary bypass surgery.
Stents are used to open or widen a narrowed or blocked coronary artery. This method is used to alleviate angina and improve the flow of blood.
Coronary bypass surgery is done to relieve angina symptoms and improves the blood flow to the heart muscle. During the process, a blood vessel will be grafted between the aorta and the coronary artery or arteries that lead to the heart muscle.
This is done frequently in cases where two, three, or even four grafts are attached; these are known as double, triple, or quadruple bypass surgery. This is done by opening the chest cavity so that the surgeon can attach the grafts.
These grafts can be attached while the heart is beating, but it is more common for the surgeon to stop the heart and divert the blood to a heart-lung bypass machine during the procedure. Once the bypass grafts are placed, the doctor will restart the heart and close up the chest cavity.
Where Can I Have My Imaging Tests Done?
If your doctor has recently advised you of a possible heart condition and recommended that an angiogram be performed, there is no better place than Independent Imaging right here in Palm Beach County. We have several locations across the county.
Call us today at (561) 795-5558 or request an appointment online to schedule your scanning test. Rest assured that your health care is in the best hands.