Question
Could you give me some information on what is involved in having a heart angiogram?
Answer
A coronary angiogram is a special imaging technique that allows the doctor to assess the state of health of the coronary arteries. A special thin canulla or tube is introduced into the femoral artery just below the level of the groin crease at the top of the leg. A local anaesthetic is administered prior to introducing the canulla. The canulla is then fed up through the aorta right up to the point where it exits from the left ventricle, which is the heart chamber that pumps oxygenated blood out through the arterial circulation. The right and left coronary arteries are the first arteries to branch off the aorta. The canulla is then diverted into each of the coronary arteries in turn. Throughout this stage of the procedure the position of the canulla is being viewed on a monitor. Once the canulla is judged to be in the correct location a special dye is passed through the canulla into the coronary arteries. If a blockage is present in an artery it can be seen on the video monitor. It is also possible to measure the degree of reduction of the lumen or internal diameter of the coronary arteries. Having completed the study the canulla is then gently withdrawn and firm pressure is applied to the femoral artery. Most people experience some residual bruising at the site of introduction of the canulla. In total the procedure takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

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