What is an angiogram?

An angiogram is an image of your blood vessels, similar to an x-ray. An angiogram shows:

  • Your hearts arteries (called coronary arteries)
  • Arteries outside your heart (called peripheral arteries)
  • Arteries in your neck (called carotid arteries)

The angiogram begins with a cardiac catheterization. During a cardiac catheterization, a small flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in your groin or arm. Your doctor gently "steers" the catheter toward the blocked blood vessel. Once the catheter is in place, your doctor injects dye to begin the angiogram. The dye allows images to show up on a monitor- almost like roads on a map. If the angiogram shows a blocked artery, your doctor may be able to treat it at the time with a producer such as balloon angioplasty.

What can I expect?

Your test will be performed in a "cath lab". When your have a angiogram, you undress and put on a hospital gown or sheet. You lie on an exam table, and an intravenous (IV) line is put into your arm. The IV delivers fluids and medications during the procedure. The medication makes you groggy, but not unconscious. The doctor makes a small incision for the catheter.  The area of the incision will be numbed so you shouldn't feel pain, but you may feel some pressure as the catheter is inserted. When the doctor injects the dye, you may notice a:

  • Warm flush feeling - maybe nausea, for a minute or so
  • Metallic taste when dye reaches blood vessels in your mouth
  • Camera rotating around you so you get x-rays from different angles.