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Acute Care Advisor 2018.1 © 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries

What is coronary arteriography?

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Coronary arteriography (also called coronary angiography or heart catheterization) is a test that uses a small tube called a catheter inserted into a blood vessel. Then contrast dye and X-rays are used to look at your blood vessels and heart. It is done to look for abnormal areas, blockages, or clots. It can also be used to guide your healthcare provider in treating any problems found during the test.

How is coronary arteriography done?

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Before the test:

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  • Your healthcare provider will ask you to sign a consent form for coronary arteriography. The consent form will state the reason you are having the test what happens during the test, and what you may expect afterward.

  • Your provider may have you prepare for the test by not eating or drinking anything the day of the coronary arteriography.

  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have any food, medicine, or other allergies such as latex.

  • Tell your provider if you have had kidney problems or an allergy to chemicals, such as contrast dye.

  • Tell your healthcare provider if you are taking any medicines, including nonprescription drugs, herbal remedies, or recreational or illegal drugs.

  • Tell your provider if you are or think you may be pregnant.

  • You will have a small tube (IV catheter) inserted into a vein in your hand or arm. This will allow medicine to be given directly into your blood and to give you fluids, if needed.

  • You may be asked to remove any jewelry you are wearing.

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During the test:

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  • You may be given a sedative through your IV to help you to relax.

  • You will be given medicine called anesthesia to keep you from feeling pain. Local anesthesia numbs the skin where you will have the procedure.

  • Your provider will insert a small tube (catheter) into a blood vessel in your arm or groin and move it through the blood vessel to the heart. X-rays may be taken to make sure the catheter is in the proper place.

  • Contrast dye will be injected into the catheter. This may cause you to feel suddenly very warm or have a taste of metal in your mouth.

  • X-rays will be taken as the contrast dye moves through the heart’s blood vessels. This will allow your doctor to see any abnormal areas or blockages.

  • Your blood oxygen level may be monitored by a sensor that is attached to your finger or earlobe.

  • A cardiac (heart) monitor will be used to keep track of your heart rate and rhythm.

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After the test:

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  • You may stay in the hospital for a few hours or several days to recover, depending on your condition and your test results.

  • If you stay in the hospital after your test:

    • You will be checked often by nursing staff.

    • Your blood oxygen level may be monitored by a sensor that is attached to your finger or earlobe.

    • A cardiac (heart) monitor may be used to keep track of your heart rate and rhythm.

    • There will be a dressing on the area where the catheter was inserted. The dressing will be checked and changed by your provider or the nursing staff as needed. To prevent bleeding from the site after the procedure, the nursing staff may have you lie flat or stay in bed for several hours.

    • Your provider may prescribe medicine to:

      • Treat pain

      • Relax and widen blood vessels and allow blood to flow through them easier

      • Help prevent blood clots

      • Slow the heart rate and reduce the workload of the heart

      • Relax and widen blood vessels and allow blood to flow through them easier

      • Control cholesterol levels

  • Your provider may recommend other types of therapy to help relieve pain, other symptoms, or side effects of treatment.

  • Your provider will use your test results to plan for your care.

What can I do to help?

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  • You will need to tell your healthcare team if you have new or worsening:

    • Chest pain or pressure, squeezing, or fullness in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back (may feel like indigestion or heartburn)

    • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders, or in your back, neck, jaw, or stomach

    • Trouble breathing

    • Breaking out in a cold sweat for no known reason

    • Along with the previous symptoms, feeling very tired, faint, or sick to your stomach

    • Feeling like your heart is beating too fast, too slow, or skipping beats

    • Feeling of thumping, pounding, or racing in your neck

    • Hives or severe itching

    • Increased pain at the catheter insertion site

    • Nausea or vomiting

  • Ask questions about any medicine, treatment, or information that you do not understand.

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

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Call emergency medical services or 911 if you have new or worsening:

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  • Throat swelling

  • Trouble breathing

  • Severe bleeding from the arteriography insertion site.

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Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:

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  • Itching

  • Rash

  • Sweating

  • Bleeding from the insertion site that does not stop

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Follow activity restrictions, such as not driving or operating machinery, as recommended by your healthcare provider or pharmacist, especially if you are taking pain medicines or muscle relaxants.

What does the test result mean?

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This test is only one part of a larger picture that includes your medical history and current health. Talk to your healthcare provider about your result and any follow up care you may need.

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If your test results are not normal, ask your healthcare provider:

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  • If you need additional tests

  • If you need treatment, and if so what your treatment plan choices are

  • If you need to make any lifestyle changes to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy

References

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Adam A, Dixon A, Gillard JH, Shwaefer-Prokop CM, Ed. Grainger and Allison's diagnostic radiology, 6th ed. 2015. Churchill Livingston Elsevier.
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Catheter angiography. American College of Radiology & Radiological Society of North America. https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=angiocath. Updated April 11, 2016. Accessed April 2017.
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Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO. Braunwald's heart disease: a textbook of cardiovascular medicine, 10th ed. 2015. Philadelphia: Saunders.
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ACR-SIR practice guideline for the performance of arteriography. Committees on Practice Parameters of the ACR Commissions on Interventional and Cardiovascular Radiology and Pediatric Radiology in collaboration with the SIR and SPR. http://www.acr.org/~/media/ACR/Documents/PGTS/guidelines/Diagnostic_Arteriography.pdf. Updated 2014. Accessed April 2017.
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US Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Coronary angiography. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ca. December 8, 2016. Accessed April 2017.

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Developed by Change Healthcare.

Published by Change Healthcare.

Produced in Cork, Ireland.

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

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