A coronary angiogram is requested for:

  • Angina
  • After a heart attack
  • Further assessment of chest pain

The procedure takes place in a Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory in a day procedure unit.  A Cardiologist will perform the procedure and is assisted by a team of nurses, a cardiac technologist and a radiographer. To prepare for the procedure you will need to fast from midnight the night before. You will need to have someone to take you home and stay with you overnight. If you are from out of town you will need to make arrangements to stay close to the hospital.

The Cardiac Catheterisation lab contains a large X Ray machine, which rotates around the bed. Once you are in the lab a small needle is put into the back of your hand through which some mild sedation will be given.  You will be attached to ECG, blood pressure and oxygen monitoring equipment. You will be covered with large sterile drapes. The Cardiologist will inject some local anaesthetic into your groin and then a small catheter will be inserted into your femoral artery and guided up the aorta to the coronary arteries.  Dye is injected into both coronary arteries so the Cardiologist can assess for blockages or narrowing of the arteries. The Xray machine moves around the bed to take pictures of the coronary arteries from many angles.

Once the Cardiologist has looked at the coronary arteries another catheter is sometimes used to cross the aortic valve so that the pumping function of the heart can be assessed. You will feel a warm flush when the contrast is injected. This feeling only lasts a short time.

The whole procedure takes about 30 minutes.  The catheter will be removed and firm pressure will be applied to your groin to help seal the femoral artery to prevent bleeding and bruising. Sometimes a special plug will be put into the femoral artery. After the procedure you will need to lie still and flat on your back for up to 4 hours.  If a plug is used the time spent lying on your back is much less. You will be discharged home later in the day.

If coronary artery disease is discovered, the Cardiologist may suggest PTCA and stenting of one or more of your arteries.