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Coronary Angiography Information

What is coronary angiography?

Coronary angiography is an X-ray examination of the blood vessels or chambers of the heart. A very small tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel in your groin or arm. The tip of the tube is positioned either in the heart or at the beginning of the arteries supplying the heart, and a special fluid (called a contrast medium or dye) is injected. This fluid is visible by X-ray, and the pictures that are obtained are called angiograms.

Other names for this test include coronary arteriography, cardiac catheter test etc.

How long does the procedure take?

The time varies from person to person partly because everyone has a unique anatomy. We allow an average of one hour per procedure but sometimes complete the procedure in a lesser or greater time.

How many of these do you do?

The procedure is routine for our staff and is one of our specialities. Our cardiologists have extensive experience in this area.

Will I feel the catheters inside me?

At the beginning of the procedure the area around the femoral (or other) artery site is numbed with local anaesthetic to minimise any discomfort. There are no nerve endings on the internal lining of the arterial vessels so you will not feel the catheters being moved inside your body.

Will I need to stay overnight?

Most patients need to stay for 5-6 hours before they can be discharged. If an angioplasty was performed you will need to stay overnight. We do ask that you have someone to drive you home and that someone stays overnight with you for the first night that you are discharged.

Will I be awake during the procedure?

It is standard procedure to give you a light sedative in the ward to help you relax during the procedure. The sedative can make you feel slightly drowsy or very sleepy but you will be aware of what is happening around you and able to communicate with the staff. We need you to be awake so we can get you to hold your breath from time to time, whilst we are taking the pictures, and so you can tell us how you are feeling.

Will I be able to eat or drink before the procedure?

The paragraph below is an extract from the patient instruction sheet:

"Please have nothing to eat for two hours prior to your admission time. You should continue to drink clear fluids, i.e. water or weak black tea, but not fruit juice, milk or coffee.

Please take your routine medications with water. If your angiogram/angioplasty is in the morning, omit any diuretics (water tablets) e.g. Lasix, Frusemide, Moduretic, Aldactone. If your angiogram/angioplasty is in the afternoon you may take your diuretics."

If you have any concerns about these instructions, the administration staff (Ph: 09 6301961) are able to help you.

How soon can I eat and drink after the procedure?

You can have a glass of water straight after the procedure and eat one hour post procedure once you are sitting up.

How long after the procedure do I need to wait before going out of town on a planned trip?

Your cardiologist is the best person to advise you here. There is no general rule and all aspects of your condition must be taken into account. Do not hesitate to ask your cardiologist.

When can I resume my normal activities?

Once again this is dependent on your particular circumstances and your cardiologist will give you the best advice. Generally you need to avoid strenuous activity e.g. heavy lifting for three days after your angiography procedure.

For more information on Auckland Heart Group's Angiography service please visit www.mercyangiography.co.nz

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