Angiogram Procedure

A doctor getting ready to proceed with the angiogram procedure.

A coronary angiogram procedure is needed to assess for a variety of health conditions. Needing any form of medical procedure can be a stressful time and an angiogram is no exception. When undergoing this procedure, you want the best doctor possible to ensure you get the best care for your health. The doctors at Harley Street are highly experienced in angiography procedures and are expertly trained in providing you the best service at the time when you need it most.

What Is An Angiogram Procedure?

Angiogram procedures can vary in complexity which determines how long they will take and what the recovery stage looks like. Typically, this procedure can take anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours. Most patients are able to go home the same day, but certain cases require you to stay overnight in hospital before being dismissed. The procedure is performed whilst under local anesthetic.

The procedure involves carefully feeding a catheter into your arteries and requires a skilled and experienced doctor to conduct it.

Why An Angiogram Procedure Is Done?

As you probably now understand, an angiogram procedure is no simple task and your doctor will only recommend it when necessary. It helps your doctor to diagnose conditions that affect your blood vessels and the flow of blood through them. The main reasons for an angiogram is to assess for coronary artery disease (blockages). In addition to the above, an angiogram can be recommended in planning procedures like angioplasty and stenting or surgery.

What Is The Difference Between An Angiogram And An Angioplasty?

An angiogram is done to look at the blood vessels and see if there are any blockages. An angioplasty is often done right after an angiogram to treat a blockage. This is done during the same procedure. During an angioplasty a wire is pushed through the catheter and down past the blockage. Then a balloon is pushed over the wire. The balloon is inflated to open a blockage and a metal stent can be put in place to hold the artery open.

How Is The Angiogram Procedure Performed?

Preparation For The Procedure

Your doctor will review your medical history, and in some cases may perform a physical exam to check everything is fine before starting. Then you will be provided with a hospital gown and required to remove things like contact lenses, glasses, jewelry, glasses and hair pins or clips. Finally, you will be required to empty your bladder before beginning the procedure.

Procedure Steps

You will start the actual procedure by lying down on an X-ray table.

To begin with, your doctor will precisely feed a catheter (which is a thin and flexible tube) into one of your arteries through an incision in either your groin or wrist. Once this is in place, the doctor will then move the X-ray machine into position to begin capturing images. During the procedure you may be given a sedative through an IV and will most likely be quite sleepy for the duration, although still able to follow instructions.

Dye is then injected through the catheter which gives the X-ray machine something to focus on. That part of the procedure is known as an arteriogram and is crucial in allowing your doctor to see into your arteries clearly.

Usage of Contrast Dye In Angiogram

As we mentioned above, an angiogram procedure uses contrast dye in your blood vessels. Without the dye it can be difficult to see your blood vessels so by adding it, the doctor can better see their location and current condition on the X-ray scans. If you have any concerns about contrast dye, it’s best to discuss them with your doctor beforehand.

How To Prepare For An Angiogram Test?

Before undergoing an angiogram procedure, there are a few things you must do in advance to prepare.

  • Do not eat or drink anything for 6 hours before your angiogram.
  • Inform your doctor of all medication you are currently taking. They should inform you which ones you can continue taking prior to the procedure.
  • If you have diabetes, you should check with your doctor before the procedure as to whether you should take insulin or oral medications before the angiogram

What To Expect During The Angiogram Procedure?

With any medical procedure, the anticipation, or your expectations are almost always more intimidating than the procedure itself. An angiogram procedure is no different. However, it can help to understand the procedure and what’s involved before you attend.

Duration Of The Procedure

An angiogram procedure takes on average about an hour, but this can vary depending on how the process goes. On the upper end you can expect around 2 hours, or 30 minutes on the lower end if you’re lucky. However, this doesn’t include the preparation and aftercare time. You could be required to stay overnight following the procedure, but this is something your doctor should inform you of beforehand.

Pain Management

The procedure should not cause any pain and you won’t feel the catheter moving through your body, which is a relief to most patients. If you have any worries about pain during your angiogram procedure, you should discuss this with your doctor before the process begins. They should be able to alleviate your worries and explain that the procedure is painless.

Risks and Complications

An angiogram procedure is considered safe, however there can always be complications during medical operations.

Common side effects include:

  • Bruising
  • Soreness
  • A small collection of blood near where the cut was made

Fortunately, all of these are common and nothing to worry about. These side effects should pass within a few days or weeks.

More serious complications include:

  • An infection where the cut was made which must be treated with antibiotics
  • A minor reaction to the contrast dye such as a rash
  • Kidney damage due to the contrast dye
  • A heart attack or stroke
  • Damage to a blood vessel
  • A serious allergic reaction to the contrast dye

These complications are quite rare and are all treatable by your doctor.

Benefits Of Angiogram Procedure

There are numerous benefits to an angiogram procedure though in many cases, the procedure itself is often more of a requirement by your doctor.

Accurate Diagnosis

A coronary angiogram procedure is the gold standard for accurately diagnosing coronary artery disease.

Treatment Planning

As an angiogram procedure can provide your doctor with a great deal of information on the current health of your body, it is ideal for treatment planning. With this information, your doctor can make a well-informed decision on what next steps to take and how best to take care of your health and body.

Choosing The Right Medical Professional For Your Angiogram Procedure

When undergoing an angiogram procedure, you need a doctor who understands your situation. The procedure itself is typically conducted by a senior doctor specialized in cardiology. Before agreeing to the procedure, researching your doctor and speaking to them will help to give you additional confidence going forward with it.

Why Harley Street Is The Best Choice For An Angiogram Procedure?

Harley Street offers a range of cardiology treatment options from screening and diagnosis to minimally invasive procedures. In all cases, the doctors at Harley Street are highly experienced in providing the best and safest care for our patients. When undergoing an angiogram procedure you want to choose a doctor who you trust explicitly and we’d love to meet with you and discuss how we can make this procedure as simple and painless as possible for you. Click here to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Angiogram Procedure

Here are some of the frequently asked questions regarding the coronary angiogram procedure.

  • Who performs an angiogram?
    A senior doctor specializing in cardiology will perform the procedure.
  • Is an angiogram a serious procedure?
    An angiogram is a serious procedure and must be conducted only by a specialist doctor.
  • Is it painful to have an angiogram?
    It is typically painless to have an angiogram.
  • How long does it take to recover from an angiogram?
    It typically takes a few days to a week to recover from an angiogram procedure.
  • What are the 3 main risks of having an angiogram?
    The 3 most common risks of an angiogram procedure are bruising, soreness, and a small lump of blood that will heal after a few days or weeks.
  • What you cannot do after an angiogram?
    After an angiogram you must get plenty of rest and avoid strenuous activities.
  • Can an angiogram cure blockage?
    An angiogram can show your doctor where a blockage is, allowing them to suggest further treatments like an angioplasty.
  • How do you sleep after an angiogram?
    When your doctor has cleared you after your procedure you can sleep as normal.
  • Are you awake during an angiogram?
    Yes, you are awake during the procedure.
  • Are angiograms and angioplasty the same?
    Angioplasty involves operating on your arteries whilst an angiogram is assessing them.

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