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An angiography (or cardiac catheterisation) is a test that can detect blockages or narrowing in the coronary arteries.

This is done by injecting dye into the coronary arteries and viewing the narrowed coronary arteries on a screen.

What happens during an angiography?

An angiography is usually performed under local anaesthetic although in some cases (in young children) general anaesthetic may be used. The procedure takes between 30 minutes and two hours depending on your own condition.

A cardiac monitor will monitor your heart throughout the procedure. Your consultant will insert a very thin tube called a catheter through an incision (cut) - usually in your leg or groin. Dye will be inserted into the vein which will allow your consultant to view the artery on a screen. X-rays of the area will be taken. Once your consultant is satisfied that the necessary x-rays have been taken they will remove the catheter. They will close the small wound with pressure or insert a plug called an angioseal.

After angiography

You will be asked to rest in bed for 4-6 hours after your procedure. Staff will monitor your blood pressure and pulse and observe your wound to make sure it is not bleeding. You may feel bruised or tender about your wound. You may be able to go home the same day of your procedure. In some cases you will need to spend one night in hospital. Be sure and arrange for someone to take you home from hospital.

You may be able to discuss the results of your angiography with your consultant the day of your procedure or in a followup outpatient appointment.

Going home after angiography

At home you can eat normally. You should drink plenty of fluids to help flush the dye out of your kidneys. You may feel tired so resting for the first few days is recommended. You should avoid any strenuous activities or heavy lifting for at least 12 hours after your procedure. 

Most people make a full recovery from angiography. As with any procedure there could be complications including:

  • Pain or swelling
  • Bruising

Specific complications of angiography:

  • Impaired kidney function (rare)
  • Allergic reaction to the dye
  • Mild chest pains
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heart beat)
  • Heart attack or stroke (rare)

If you are at all concerned about the risks of having angiography be sure and discuss them with a member of our healthcare team. 

Exeter Hospital

Wonford Road, Exeter, EX2 4UG

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