Waitematā DHB Cardiology Services
Public Service, Cardiology
Coronary Angiography (Cardiac Catheterisation)
This test is performed by a cardiologist in a sterile catheter laboratory. The procedure will be explained to you before being requested to sign the legal consent form which will be co-signed by your cardiologist.
Most people will need to have routine blood tests and sometimes a chest X-ray (if no recent ones) before the procedure. The cardiologist may request other tests that may require separate appointments and are usually planned the day before or the day of the procedure.
You will be asked not to eat after midnight the evening before the procedure, but you may still drink water. You will be advised regarding your medications if you take any.
You are not given a general anaesthetic but will have some medication to relax you. Local anaesthetic is put into an area of skin on your wrist (or the side of your groin if access from the wrist is unsuccessful). A needle and then tube are fed into an artery and advanced through the blood vessels to the heart. Passing a catheter through the blood vessels is a painless procedure. Dye is then injected so that the heart and its blood vessels can be seen on X-ray. X-rays and measurements are then taken giving the doctors information about the state of your heart and the exact nature of any narrowed blood vessels. This allows them to plan the best form of treatment to prevent heart attacks and control any symptoms you may have. Your cardiologist may decide to perform an angioplasty (unblocking of narrowed coronary arteries) during the same procedure.
After the procedure your arm will be rested on a sling for some time (if the procedure was done through the wrist) or you will have to lie flat (without bending your legs) while the groin sheath is in place. After the groin sheath is removed, you must lie flat for a period of time to prevent bleeding. Once bleeding is secured you will mobilise normally.