Encyclopedia Home / A / Angiogram - HealthCentral Encyclopedia


  • Definition

    The initial technique of percutaneous coronary intervention, coronary angioplasty, was to widen narrowed coronary arteries by inflating a small balloon catheter at the site of the narrowing. The current standard of care usually results in the placement of a metal tube called a stent at the site of the narrowing. The stent functions to keep the artery open. Many stents now are coated with drugs to help prevent scar tissue formation and therefore reduce the need for repeat procedures. Because of the rapidly changing techniques and the association of the term “angioplasty” with balloon inflation only, these heart procedures are now referred to as percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI).


    The procedure is used to help diagnose conditions such as myocardial infarction, vascular occlusion, calcified atherosclerotic plaques, cerebrovascular accident, portal hypertension (e.g., from liver failure), kidney neoplasms, renal (kidney) artery stenosis as a causative factor in hypertension, pulmonary emboli, and congenital and acquired lesions of pulmonary vessels.

    A dye, called the contrast medium, may be injected into an artery or vein or introduced into a catheter inserted in a peripheral artery and threaded through the vessel until it’s position is either in the heart or at the beginning of the arteries supplying the heart. Testing for hypersensitivity to the dye occurs before the substance is used, as there may be an allergic reaction in some patients. After the procedure, the patient is monitored for signs of bleeding, and bed rest for a number of hours is indicated.


    How important or necessary is this test for diagnosis?

    Do any tests need to be done prior to the angiogram?

    What type of angiography will be performed?

    What will happen during the procedure? What are the risks?

    What should be expected after the procedure?

    Will any medication be given? What are the side effects?

    Will any anesthesia be given?