A coronary angiogram is a procedure that uses X-ray imaging to see the inside of your heart’s blood vessels. Coronary angiograms are part of a general group of procedures known as cardiac catheterization. Catheterization refers to any procedure in which a long, thin, flexible plastic tube (catheter) is inserted into your body.

Heart catheter procedures can both diagnose and treat heart and blood vessel conditions. A coronary angiogram, which can help diagnose heart conditions, is the most common type of heart catheter procedure.

Procedure of Coronary Angiography

  • Coronary angiography is done in special laboratories or ‘cath-labs’ that look like operating theatres
  • You will be asked to lie on a narrow table which will be moved from side to side during the test
  • You may have an intravenous line inserted to enable medicines to be given during the test
  • Local anaesthetic will be injected into wherever the catheter is to be introduced, e.g. your groin, wrist or arm
  • The catheter will be moved through the main blood vessel of your body, the aorta, to the coronary arteries on your heart
  • When the catheter is in place a small amount of X-ray contrast dye will be injected into it. X-rays will be taken as the dye moves through your coronary arteries
  • Different catheters are needed to study the various arteries so one will be removed and the next introduced
  • When the test is completed the catheter will be removed and pressure applied to the insertion site
  • You will be transferred to the ward or recovery area to rest in bed for at least four hours. In most circumstances you will be allowed to go home after four to six hours
  • The X-ray dye passes through your kidneys and is excreted in your urine