During coronary angiography, you're kept on your back and awake. This allows you to follow your doctor's instructions during the test. You'll be given medicine to help you relax. The medicine might make you sleepy.
Your doctor will numb the area on the arm, groin (upper thigh), or neck where the catheter will enter your blood vessel. Then, he or she will use a needle to make a small hole in the blood vessel. The catheter will be inserted in the hole.
Next, your doctor will thread the catheter through the vessel and into the coronary arteries. Special x-ray movies are taken of the catheter as it's moved into the heart. The movies help your doctor see where to place the tip of the catheter.
Once the catheter is properly placed, your doctor will inject a special type of dye into the tube. The dye will flow through your coronary arteries, making them visible on an x ray. This x ray is called an angiogram.
If the angiogram reveals blocked arteries, your doctor may use coronary angioplasty to restore blood flow to your heart.
After your doctor completes the procedure(s), he or she will remove the catheter from your body. The opening left in the blood vessel will then be closed up and bandaged.
A small sandbag or other type of weight might be placed on the bandage to apply pressure. This will help prevent major bleeding from the site.
The animation below shows the process of coronary angiography. Click the "start" button to play the animation. Written and spoken explanations are provided with each frame. Use the buttons in the lower right corner to pause, restart, or replay the animation, or use the scroll bar below the buttons to move through the frames.
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Coronary Angiography, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
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A new computed tomography (CT) scanner substantially reduces potentially harmful radiation while still improving overall image quality. National Institutes of Health researchers, along with engineers at Toshiba Medical Systems, worked on the scanner. An analysis of data on 107 patients undergoing heart scans found that radiation exposure was reduced by as much as 95 percent compared to the range of current machines, while the resulting images showed less blurriness, reduced graininess, and greater visibility of fine details.
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New NHLBI Program Trains Scientists to Bring More Science Out of the Lab and into the Patient Care Marketplace
The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.