Coronary Angiography: Procedure, Preparation and Results

Coronary Angiography

Treatment Duration

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20 Minutes

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30 Minutes

Treatment Cost

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15,000

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35,000

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Coronary Angiography

Angiography is a test performed to find out any blockages in the blood vessels. Has your doctor advised you to undergo a coronary angiography? The test price may vary depending on various factors.

Coronary angiography may be performed for various reasons. Some of these will be discussed further. Read to know more about angiography, its price, procedure, benefits and more.

Procedure Name

Coronary Angiography

Conditions Diagnosed

Chest pain, Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS), Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), Heart Valve Disorders

Benefits of the Surgery

Accurate assessment, Evaluation of heart function, Better treatment decisions, Future risk reduction

Treated by

Cardiologist

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What is Coronary Angiography?

Coronary angiography is a diagnostic procedure that plays an important role in detecting heart diseases by testing the blockages in the coronary arteries.

It helps identify how well the blood can flow through these arteries and the presence of clots, if any. Clots or blockages may pose a threat to the occurrence of a heart attack.

A cardiologist performs a coronary angiography or angiogram under the influence

of general anaesthesia. 

Anatomy of the Heart

Compared to other body organs, the heart is one of the most complicated and important. It consists of the following parts:

  1. Atria: The heart has two atria, the right atrium and the left atrium, the upper chambers of the heart.

    The left atrium receives oxygenated blood from the lungs through the pulmonary veins and pumps it into the left ventricle.

  2. Ventricles: The heart also has two ventricles, the right ventricle and the left ventricle, the lower chambers of the heart.

    The left ventricle receives oxygenated blood from the left atrium and pumps it to the rest of the body through the aorta, the largest artery.

  3. Septum: The heart is divided into left and right sides by a muscular wall called the septum.
    This separation prevents the mixing of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood.

  4. Valves: The heart has four valves that ensure one-way blood flow through the chambers.
    These valves are the tricuspid valve, pulmonary valve, mitral (bicuspid) valve and aortic valve.

  5. Pulmonary Artery and Veins: The pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated blood from the right ventricle to the lungs, where it picks up oxygen.
    Oxygenated blood returns to the heart through the pulmonary veins.

  6. Aorta: The aorta is the main artery that carries oxygenated blood from the left ventricle to the rest of the body, supplying all organs and tissues with oxygen and nutrients.

  7. Coronary Arteries: The heart itself needs oxygen and nutrients to function properly.
    The coronary arteries branch off the aorta and supply the heart muscle with blood.

  8. Pericardium: The heart is surrounded by a protective double-layered sac called the pericardium.
    It helps keep the heart in place and reduces friction between the heart and surrounding structures.

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Who Needs Coronary Angiography?

Coronary angiography is a vital medical procedure that uses X-ray imaging to visualise the coronary arteries supplying oxygen and nutrients to the heart.

Indications for Coronary Angiography

Some of the important indications and considerations for coronary include:

  1. Chest Pain (Angina): Consistent chest pain or discomfort could indicate reduced blood flow to the heart, coronary angiography is a valuable diagnostic tool.

  2. Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS): In urgent cases like unstable angina or a heart attack, coronary angiography is crucial.

  3. Coronary Artery Disease (CAD): Individuals with multiple risk factors for CAD, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, or a family history of heart disease, may require coronary angiography.

  4. Heart Valve Disorders: In some cases, coronary angiography may be a valuable part of evaluating heart valve problems or other structural heart issues.

Note: Remember, the decision to undergo coronary angiography is made by a cardiologist after careful evaluation, weighing potential benefits and risks.

Traditional vs CT Coronary Angiography

Traditional coronary angiography, also known as invasive coronary angiography, is a procedure where a catheter is threaded through the blood vessels to the coronary arteries, and a contrast dye is injected to visualise the heart's blood vessels using X-ray imaging.

On the other hand, CT coronary angiography is a non-invasive imaging technique that uses computed tomography (CT) to obtain detailed 3D images of the coronary arteries after administering a contrast dye.

The choice between the two depends on the specific clinical situation and the patient's factors. A healthcare professional will determine the best method for a patient's needs.

How is Coronary Angiography Performed?

Coronary angiography plays a significant role in diagnosing and managing heart-related conditions. The following steps are involved in the coronary angiography procedure:

  1. Test Preparation: The patient is briefed about the details and potential risks involved. A consent form is signed, and medical history, including allergies and medications, is reviewed.

  2. Administration of Local Anaesthesia: Local anaesthesia is applied to numb the insertion site, often in the groin or wrist.

  3. Insertion of Catheter: A thin, flexible tube called a catheter is carefully inserted through the blood vessels and guided towards the coronary arteries.

  4. Contrast Medium Injection: Once the catheter reaches the coronary arteries, a contrast medium (iodine-based dye) is injected through the catheter.

    The contrast dye helps highlight the blood vessels on the X-ray images.

  5. X-ray Imaging: X-ray images are captured as the contrast medium flows through the coronary arteries.
    These images reveal any blockages, narrowing, or abnormalities in the arteries.

  6. Optional Interventions: If any significant blockages are detected, the interventional cardiologist may decide to perform an immediate intervention, such as angioplasty and stent placement, to restore blood flow.

What to Expect Before and on the Day of Coronary Angiography?

Coronary angiography is not considered major surgery. However, the patient may expect the following before or on the day of the surgery.

Before Coronary Angiography

  1. Medical Evaluation: The healthcare provider will review the patient’s medical history, including allergies, medications, and previous heart-related conditions.

  2. Fasting Instructions: The patient will be asked to refrain from eating or drinking anything for several hours before the procedure.

  3. Medication Management: Certain medication intake may be required to stop, especially those that could interfere with the procedure, such as blood thinners.

  4. Smoking and Alcohol Avoidance: Smoking and alcohol consumption in the days leading up to the procedure should be restricted, as they can affect blood vessel function and healing.

On the Day of Coronary Angiography

On the patient's arrival at the hospital on the day of surgery, the healthcare staff will direct the next procedures:

  1. Consent Process: The doctor explains the details of the procedure, along with its potential benefits and risks.
    After understanding the information, the patient will be asked to sign a consent form to proceed.

  2. Clothing: The patient may be asked to change into a hospital gown and remove any jewellery, contact lenses, or objects from the body.

What to Expect After Coronary Angiography?

A patient who has undergone coronary angiography can expect the following after the surgery:

The Recovery Process in the Hospital

The recovery process in the hospital after coronary angiography plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth and successful healing journey.

  1. Immediate Monitoring: After the coronary angiography procedure, the patient is taken to a recovery area where healthcare professionals closely monitor their vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels.

  2. Fluid Intake and Hydration: Adequate hydration is essential to help flush out the contrast dye used during the procedure from the patient's system.

    Patients are encouraged to drink plenty of fluids as recommended by their healthcare providers to aid in eliminating the dye.

  3. Medication Management: During the recovery period in the hospital, patients may receive medications to manage any discomfort or prevent potential complications.

  4. Medical Guidance: During the hospital stay, patients and their families will receive education on post-procedure care, wound management, and any necessary lifestyle changes for better heart health.Recovery Process in Hospital After Coronary Angiography

On the basis of the coronary angiography report findings, the doctor may suggest the following:

  1. No Blockage: If the coronary angiography shows minimal or no significant blockages, the patient may be discharged on the same day of coronary angiography and lifestyle modifications, and medications may be recommended.

    These can include adopting a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, managing stress, and taking medications to control blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other risk factors.

  2. Mild to Moderate Blockage: In mild to moderate blockage, lifestyle changes and medications are often prescribed. In some instances, a procedure called angioplasty might be considered.

    During angioplasty, a thin tube (catheter) with a balloon at its tip is threaded into the blocked artery. The balloon is inflated to widen the artery and a stent (a small mesh tube) may be placed to keep the artery open.

  3. Severe Blockage: For more severe blockages, especially if they are causing symptoms like chest pain (angina) or if there is a risk of heart attack, a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery might be recommended.

    In this procedure, a surgeon uses blood vessels from other body parts to create detours around the blocked arteries, restoring blood flow to the heart muscle.

  4. Total Blockage: In cases of complete blockage of a coronary artery, immediate intervention is often necessary to restore blood flow and prevent heart muscle damage.

    This can be done through emergency angioplasty, where a catheter is used to open the blocked artery, or through CABG surgery if multiple arteries are affected.

It's important to note that treatment decisions are highly individualised and depend on the patient's overall health, age, medical history, and other health conditions.

A team of cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons will carefully evaluate the angiography results and recommend the most appropriate treatment plan.

Recovery Process/Expectation After Hospital Discharge

After being discharged from the hospital following coronary angiography, patients enter a critical phase of recovery that requires careful attention and adherence to post-procedure guidelines.

  1. Rest and Healing: Upon returning home, it is essential to prioritise rest and allow the body to heal. Engaging in light activities and avoiding strenuous tasks during the initial days after discharge is essential.

  2. Wound Care: If the catheter was inserted through the groin, proper wound care instructions must be followed as the doctor provides.
    It is also important to keep the insertion site clean and dry to minimise the risk of infection.

  3. Medication: Pain management medication or antibiotics may be prescribed to reduce the risk of complications such as an infection.

  4. Physical Activity: Per the doctor's advice, physical activities such as walking can gradually increase. However, heavy lifting or intense exercise should be avoided until the doctor approves.

  5. Resuming Daily Activities: Patients can typically resume daily activities within a few days of discharge. However, driving or lifting heavy weights should be avoided initially.

  6. Dietary Considerations: The patient must follow a heart-healthy diet focusing on low-fat, low-sodium foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

    Limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, as the doctor advises, is also essential.

First follow-up Appointment

The doctor will read the coronary angiography reports for any irregularities and devise a suitable plan for further treatments.

A few follow-ups may be required in case the results are negative. These visits are crucial for monitoring your progress, assessing the procedure results, and making necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

Benefits of Coronary Angiography

Coronary angiography is a valuable and widely used diagnostic procedure that offers several benefits in the evaluation and management of heart-related conditions.

Some of the important roles and benefits of coronary angiography include:

  1. Accurate Assessment: Coronary angiography provides detailed and real-time X-ray images of the coronary arteries, allowing doctors to directly assess the blood flow and detect any abnormalities or blockages.

  2. Evaluation of Heart Function: By assessing the health of the coronary arteries, coronary angiography indirectly provides valuable information about the heart's overall function and potential areas of concern.

  3. Better Treatment Decisions: The precise imaging of coronary arteries obtained through angiography helps guide treatment decisions.

    Based on the severity of blockages, healthcare providers can recommend medical therapy, angioplasty, stent placement, or coronary artery bypass surgery.

  4. Future Risk Reduction: Coronary angiography plays a crucial role in allowing specialists to assess the risk of future cardiovascular events.

    This information helps in determining the prognosis and tailoring treatment plans accordingly.

  5. Detection of Rare Heart Conditions: In some cases, coronary angiography may reveal rare heart conditions, such as coronary artery anomalies or congenital abnormalities, which may require specialized management.

  6. Preoperative Evaluation: Before certain heart surgeries or interventions, coronary angiography is performed to assess the coronary artery status, helping surgeons plan and optimise procedures.

  7. Validation of Non-Invasive Tests: In cases where non-invasive cardiac tests like stress tests or CT scans show abnormal findings, coronary angiography is used to validate and confirm the diagnosis.

Risks and Complications of Coronary Angiography

While it is generally considered safe, like any medical procedure, there are inherent risks and possible complications associated with coronary angiography. 

  1. Bleeding and Hematoma: One of the most common risks is bleeding at the catheter insertion site, typically in the groin or wrist.

    While minor bleeding is normal, excessive bleeding may lead to hematoma formation, requiring additional treatment.

  2. Allergic Reactions: Some patients may have allergic reactions to the contrast dye used during the procedure.

    Mild reactions may include skin rash or itching, while severe reactions can cause difficulty breathing and require immediate medical attention.

  3. Infection: Although uncommon, there is a risk of infection at the catheter insertion site or within the blood vessels.

  4. Radiation Exposure: Coronary angiography involves using X-rays, which exposes patients to a small amount of radiation. However, the procedure's benefits generally outweigh the risks of radiation exposure.

  5. Blood Vessel Damage: Rarely, the catheter insertion may cause damage to the blood vessel, leading to further complications. This risk is minimised by using skilled and experienced healthcare professionals.

  6. Arrhythmias: In some cases, coronary angiography can trigger irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias), although this is relatively uncommon. 

  7. Blood Clots: The procedure may dislodge small blood clots from the site of the catheter insertion, potentially leading to further blockages in the blood vessels.

    Anti-clotting medications may be prescribed to prevent this complication.

  8. Kidney Damage: The contrast dye used in coronary angiography can strain the kidneys. Patients with pre-existing kidney conditions are at higher risk of developing contrast-induced nephropathy.

  9. Stroke or Heart Attack: In extremely rare cases, the procedure may cause a stroke or heart attack. This risk is higher in patients with severely compromised heart function.

Note: It is essential for patients to be aware of these potential risks and for healthcare providers to take appropriate precautions to minimise them.

When is Consultation with the Doctor Needed?

The patient must contact the doctor immediately if she notices any of the following symptoms:

The patient may have to consult the doctor earlier if he experiences the following:

  1. Foul-smelling drainage from the site of catheter insertion.

  2. Persistent bleeding.

  3. Chest pain.

Risks of Delayed Coronary Angiography

Delayed coronary angiography refers to a situation where the procedure is postponed or not promptly performed after its initial recommendation.

While coronary angiography is a crucial diagnostic tool for assessing coronary artery health, postponing the procedure can carry potential risks and implications for a patient's heart health. Some of these can be:

  1. Undiagnosed Coronary Conditions: Delaying coronary angiography can result in undiagnosed coronary conditions such as coronary artery disease.

  2. Increased Risk of Heart Attack: Patients with undiagnosed heart conditions are at an increased risk of experiencing a heart attack.

    Prompt coronary angiography can help identify blockages and narrowings, enabling timely interventions to prevent heart attacks.

  3. Progression of Coronary Artery Disease: Delayed diagnosis and treatment of CAD may allow the disease to progress, leading to more severe blockages and potentially limiting treatment options.

  4. Delayed Treatment: Timely coronary angiography provides valuable information that guides treatment decisions.

    Delaying the procedure may hinder doctors from designing appropriate treatment plans promptly.

  5. Reduced Quality of Life: Untreated or inadequately managed CAD can significantly impact a patient's quality of life, causing symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, and reduced physical activity.

Cost of Coronary Angiography Procedure

The estimated cost of coronary angiography is ₹ 15,000 to ₹ 35,000. It can vary depending on multiple factors such as:

  1. The consultation fee

  2. Diagnostic exams for procedure risks and recovery.

  3. Admission fee

  4. The patient's existing medical condition

  5. Age of the patient

  6. Type of hospital chosen for the procedure

  7. The type of room chosen for the recovery period

  8. The city where the hospital is located

Procedure Name

Cost Value

Coronary Angiography

₹ 15,000 to ₹ 35,000

Takeaway

Heart conditions are becoming a major reason behind increasing fatality rates. Undiagnosed diseases are increasing the risk of the same. It is crucial to discuss with a heart specialist if you face any difficulty in breathing or pain in the chest.

Get in touch with the experts at HexaHealth to know the best treatment options available for heart conditions. We can be your companion from the beginning to the surgical after-care stage.

Suggested Reads

  1. Heart Valve Disease

  2. Difference between Gas Pain and Heart Attack

  3. Difference between Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Coronary angiography is a medical imaging technique used to visualise the blood vessels in the heart, specifically the coronary arteries.

It involves injecting a contrast dye into the arteries and using X-ray imaging to identify blockages or abnormalities, helping diagnose coronary artery disease (CAD) and plan appropriate treatment.

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Coronary angiography is usually performed in a specialised X-ray room called the cardiac catheterisation lab (cath lab).

  1. A thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel, typically in the groin or wrist, and guided through the arteries to the heart.

  2. Contrast dye is then injected through the catheter, and X-rays are taken to visualise the coronary arteries and any potential blockages.

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Before the procedure, patients are advised to fast for several hours to ensure an empty stomach. They should inform their healthcare provider about any allergies, medical conditions, or medications they are taking.

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Coronary angiography is generally not painful, as local anaesthesia is administered at the site where the catheter is inserted. However, some patients may experience a brief sensation of pressure or discomfort during the catheter insertion.

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While coronary angiography is considered safe, some risks are involved. These may include:

  1. Bleeding or bruising at the catheter insertion site

  2. Allergic reactions to the contrast dye

  3. Damage to blood vessels or surrounding organs

  4. Rare incidents of heart attack or stroke

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The procedure duration varies, but it typically takes between 20 to 30 minutes. However, this can be longer if additional interventions, such as angioplasty or stent placement, are required during the same session.

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After the procedure, patients are usually kept under observation for a few hours. Once they have fully recovered from the sedatives and the medical team ensures no complications, they can usually eat and drink as usual.

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Yes, there are alternative diagnostic tests, such as stress tests, CT angiography, and cardiac MRI, that can provide valuable information about heart health.

However, coronary angiography remains one of the most accurate and commonly used methods for visualising coronary arteries and detecting blockages.

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Recovery times can vary, but many patients can resume normal activities within a day or two after the procedure. Strenuous activities may need to be avoided for a few more days, as advised by the healthcare provider.

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Coronary angiography is primarily a diagnostic procedure. However, if a significant blockage is detected during the procedure, the interventional cardiologist may perform angioplasty and stent placement.

This is done to open the narrowed artery and restore blood flow and can be done in the same session, if appropriate, avoiding the need for a separate procedure.

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A coronary angiography test may cost somewhere between ₹ 12,000 to ₹ 40,000. The cost depends on various factors such as the doctor’s fee, the hospital’s procedure fees, hospital’s location, etc.

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References

All the articles on HexaHealth are supported by verified medically-recognized sources such as; peer-reviewed academic research papers, research institutions, and medical journals. Our medical reviewers also check references of the articles to prioritize accuracy and relevance. Refer to our detailed editorial policy for more information.


  1. Medline Plus. Coronary angiography: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Medlineplus.gov. 2014.link
  2. American Heart Association. American Heart Association | To be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. [Internet]. www.heart.org. 2018.link
  3. Coronary Angiogram: Procedure Details [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic.link
  4. Cleveland Clinic. Heart: Anatomy and Function [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. 2021.link
  5. Coronary Angiography: Preparation, Procedure, and Results [Internet]. Healthline. 2018.link

Reviewer

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES

12 Years Experience

Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More

Author

Shivani Arora

Shivani Arora

BA Journalism and Mass Communication

2 Years Experience

She is an accomplished new-age professional who has interviewed prominent personalities such as Bhaichung Bhutia, G. Sathiyan, Shashi Tharoor, etc. A content writer interested in health communication, graphic desi...View More

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