Angiography

Written by: 
Dr Roger Henderson

Coronary angiographyX-ray imaging of the blood vessels following the injection of a dye to improve visibility. is a procedure carried out under local anaestheticA medication that reduces sensation in a part of the body. that involves passing a very thin, flexible hollow tube (called a catheterA tube used either to drain fluid from the body or to introduce fluid into the body.) into an arteryA blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart. Apart from the pulmonary artery and umbilical artery, all arteries carry oxygenated blood. in the arm or the groin and up to the arteries that supply the heart (the coronaryRelating to the arteries supplying the heart itself. arteries).

A dye (the contrast mediumA substance taken (either by mouth or into a vein) by a person who is about to undergo an imaging investigation, to improve the visibility of the structures being imaged., which shows up on X-rays) is injected through the catheterA tube used either to drain fluid from the body or to introduce fluid into the body. so that it passes into the coronaryRelating to the arteries supplying the heart itself. arteries. X-rays are then taken, so that when the dye shows up, the anatomy of the coronaryRelating to the arteries supplying the heart itself. arteries can be seen clearly. The procedure usually lasts about half an hour.

Coronary angiographyX-ray imaging of the blood vessels following the injection of a dye to improve visibility. is one of the best ways of assessing the state of the coronaryRelating to the arteries supplying the heart itself. arteries, and seeing whether or not there is any narrowing in them that might interfere with bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. flow. It is particularly useful in assessing the smaller bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. vessels.[1] If a blockage is found that could be responsible for a person's symptoms, doctors may be able to remove it through a related procedure called angioplastyThe mechanical widening or clearing of a narrowed or obstructed blood vessel, performed during angiography, which is used to help with visibility..

However, heart attacks can occur even in people whose coronaryRelating to the arteries supplying the heart itself. arteries appear normal on an angiogramAn X-ray image of the blood vessels following the injection of a dye to improve visibility.. For example, spasm in the coronaryRelating to the arteries supplying the heart itself. arteries is actually more likely in arteries that appear normal on an angiogramAn X-ray image of the blood vessels following the injection of a dye to improve visibility., rather than those that show major narrowing, known as stenosisNarrowing of a tubular structure or valve..[2]

Coronary angiographyX-ray imaging of the blood vessels following the injection of a dye to improve visibility. can be a little uncomfortable. It can also cause some adverse reactions, such as an allergic response to the dye, kidney problems caused by the dye (called contrast nephropathyA deterioration in kidney function following the injection of contrast medium.), and bleeding from or bruising at the site where the catheterA tube used either to drain fluid from the body or to introduce fluid into the body. was passed into the arteryA blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart. Apart from the pulmonary artery and umbilical artery, all arteries carry oxygenated blood..[1]

References: 
  1. The use of magnetic resonance in myocardial ischaemiaInadequate flow of blood to the heart muscle.. De Filippo M, Sudberry JJ, Borgia D et al. Acta Biomed 2005;76;137-51.
  2. Coronary spasm: clinical features and pathogenesis. Yasue H and Kugiyama K. Internal Medicine 1997;36:760-5.