A coronary angiogram is a procedure that uses X-ray imaging to see your heart's blood vessels. Coronary angiograms are part of a general group of procedures known as cardiac catheterization.
Heart catheterization 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.
During a coronary angiogram, a type of dye that's visible by X-ray machine is injected into the blood vessels of your heart. The X-ray machine rapidly takes a series of images (angiograms), offering a detailed look at the inside of your blood vessels. If necessary, your doctor can perform procedures such as angioplasty during your coronary angiogram.
Cardiac catheterization involves passing a thin flexible tube (catheter) into the right or left side of the heart, usually from the groin or the arm.
How the Test is Performed
You will be given a mild sedative before the test to help you relax. An intravenous (IV) line is inserted into one of the blood vessels in your arm, neck, or groin after the site has been cleansed and numbed with a local numbing medicine (anesthetic).
A catheter is then inserted through the IV and into your blood vessel. The catheter is carefully threaded into the heart using an x-ray machine that produces real-time pictures (fluoroscopy). Once the catheter is in place, your doctor may:
- Collect blood samples from the heart
- Measure pressure and blood flow in the heart's chambers and in the large arteries around the heart
- Measure the oxygen in different parts of your heart
- Examine the arteries of the heart with an x-ray technique called fluoroscopy (which gives immediate, "real-time" pictures of the x-ray images on a screen and provides a permanent record of the procedure)
- Perform a biopsy on the heart muscle