If you have been dealing with heart-related issues like atherosclerosis and chest pain, then your doctor may want to conduct an angiogram. This is a vascular radiology procedure in which a special imaging tool is guided into your heart through the arteries. During the procedure, your doctor will gather images of your heart, allowing him or her to visualize any problems that may be present.
The idea of having an angiogram performed can be intimidating, but knowing that to expect should help calm your nerves. Here's a look.
Preparing For Your Appointment
Before your angiogram appointment, your doctor will likely give you a series of instructions to follow. You may need to stop taking certain medications and abstain from eating and drinking for a few hours before your angiogram.
Arriving At The Office
When you arrive at the doctor's office or medical center on the day of your appointment, your nursing team will spend an hour or two preparing you for the procedure. They will take your vital signs, undress you and put you into a hospital gown, and insert an IV into your arm. You may be given some IV fluids to adjust your hydration levels. You will also be given a sedative, which should help you feel relaxed and at-ease though it will not put your under completely.
During the Angiogram
Once your sedative has taken effect, you will be taken into a special room where the hospital keeps its vascular radiology equipment. You will feel a prick as the doctor inserts a needle into your leg or arm, injecting a local anesthetic. This agent should numb the area, but once again, it will not put you to sleep. Once your arm or leg is numb, your doctor will guide a small tube into the artery in the area. This tube will be guided towards your hear, and your doctor will then manipulate the device, using the image on a screen to guide him or her, through the chambers of your heart. You won't feel any of this. The entire procedure should take an hour or less.
After Your Appointment
The tube will be removed from your body, and the small incision in your leg or arm will be sutured shut. As the sedative wears off, your doctor will share the imaging results with you and discuss what they mean. You may be told to change your diet, take certain medications, or schedule a surgery to repair various sorts of heart damage.