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Tests & procedures


NB: If you have an allergy to SEAFOOD or IODINE/DYE please inform your nurse or Doctor

What is a Coronary Angiogram?

A Coronary Angiogram is a special x-ray that enables your Cardiologist to look at your Coronary Arteries. These arteries supply the blood to your heart muscle. The Angiogram can identify if you have any narrowed or blocked arteries and from there your Doctor can determine the best treatment option for you.

 How is an Angiogram done?

Coronary arteries sit on the surface of your heart providing blood and oxygen to your heart muscle. To get to these arteries the Doctor may go through the femoral artery in your groin or the radial artery in your arm. A special dye will be injected into your arteries and the x-ray machine will take pictures as the dye travels through your coronary arteries. If there is a narrowing (or blockage) the doctor will be able to see where it is and assess the significance of it. This information will then be used to determine your ongoing treatment.

Before the Angiogram

You will be asked to either fast from MIDNIGHT or AFTER BREAKFAST, however, you can keep drinking water until 4 hours prior to the procedure. Your nurse will let you know. You will have a ‘drip’ or IV line inserted into your arm which may be used to give you some fluids prior to the procedure. The nurse will shave your groin and wrist area to prepare you for the test. You may need to take some extra medication and some of your regular medicines may need to be with-held. This will be discussed with you.

During the Angiogram

You will be awake during the procedure and given a local anaesthetic to numb the area where the catheter tube will be inserted. You may feel some mild discomfort. The Doctor will insert a hollow tube (sheath) into your artery through a small puncture site. Then they will insert the long catheter tube through the sheath. The catheter is gently threaded through the main artery (aorta) and up to where your coronary arteries start. (You are not likely to feel the catheter moving through your arteries as there are no nerves inside them) Once positioned the doctor will inject the dye and take the pictures. You may feel a ‘hot flush’ as the dye is injected and this is normal, it won’t last for long.

How long will it take?

An angiogram will generally take about 10-20 mins.

After the Angiogram

You will move from the procedure room to a recovery area/ day unit where the nurse will keep a close eye on you. If the puncture was through your groin, the nurses will remove the sheath once you are stable. As they pull the sheath out they will need to push down with firm pressure for about 10-15 mins. Once the sheath has been removed you will be able to eat and drink BUT you need to remain flat. You must keep your head down on the pillow and keep your leg straight for about 3 hours.                                                                                                            If the doctor has gone through the artery in your arm, a support band (TR Band) will have been applied. This is a manually air-filled compression device that provides pressure to a radial artery puncture site. It will have been applied immediately following your procedure. You will be able to mobilise as tolerated however, all forceful movement of the affected hand and arm is discouraged for 24 hours.                                                                                                     The nurse will check your fingers/ feet, your blood pressure and the puncture site regularly. If you cough, sneeze or laugh you will need to apply pressure to the groin area for support. If you feel any warmth or wetness near the puncture site you must notify your nurse immediately by using the call buzzer. If you are a patient in hospital you will be moved back to your ward area. Day patients will be discharged from the day unit.

Are there any risks?

As with any medical tests there are risks, but serious problems are rare.  For most people there are no problems and knowing the result of the test outweighs the risk involved. Your doctor will discuss any risks with you at the time of signing the consent form.

The results:

The results of an angiogram will generally be evident at the time of the test. The results will be discussed with you by the doctor. 

Going back to work:

Depending on the type of work that you do, you may require 1- 2 days off work. Please discuss with your doctor and request a medical certificate on discharge if required.

Angiogram Discharge Information Sheet

  • You are not to drive a vehicle for 24 hours after the procedure.
  • Rest quietly on the day of your discharge from hospital. For patients living more than 1 hour away from Townsville you are required to stay locally in Townsville for an extra 24 hours after being discharged from hospital.
  • Look and feel around the puncture site each day for a week. You may experience some bruising. A small pea-sized lump may develop, this is normal and no action is required. Continue to observe the area. Seek medical advice if the lump increases in size, if you develop swelling, pain, redness, oozing or signs of infection.
  • Bleeding rarely occurs at the puncture site once you have been discharged. If it does occur, lie down, apply firm pressure for 10 mins and seek medical assistance. Remember, this is an artery, call ‘000’ if bleeding persists or if you have any concerns.
  • If you have any change in sensation, feeling or colour in the leg or arm of the puncture site, present to your local hospital.
  • For groin puncture apply pressure to the site for 48 hours when coughing, sneezing, laughing or sitting on toilet. No lifting, carrying, bending, pulling or pushing for 48 hrs after the procedure.
  • For radial puncture avoid any forceful movement of the hand and arm for 24 hours.
  • Avoid hot water and rubbing of the puncture site when showering for 24hrs. Wash gently and pat dry, do not have a bath or soak in water until the puncture site is fully healed (approx 1 week)
  • Even if you are well, you need to make an appointment to see your own doctor (GP) 5 – 7 days following discharge from hospital.
  • Unless instructed otherwise, drink at least 2 litres of water the day following your procedure to help remove the dye from your system.
  • Medication compliance and risk factor control is ESSENTIAL in prevention and management of heart disease. We cannot cure you.