Coronary Angiography Summary

Coronary angiogram is a procedure that uses dye and x-ray to see how the blood flows through your heart. It helps a physician diagnose blocked arteries and coronary artery disease. It is often done as a part of a cardiac catheterization and other catheter based tests.

The coronary angiogram is considered one of the most effective for diagnosing coronary artery disease. It is considered safe and it is also considered to be minimally invasive. In fact, more than 1 million coronary angiograms are performed each year.

Length of the procedure: 1 1/2 hours

Hospital Stay: Patients are not required to stay overnight for this procedure.

Recovery before traveling home: Patients seeking a coronary angiogram through medical tourism can usually return home 24 hours after the procedure.

Travel Tip: Although you can depart shortly after your procedure, it is best to stay 48 hours to give your body some rest. This will give you adequate time to recover from anesthesia before you travel.

Procedure Details

Your procedure begins with the administration of sedative. You will be awake during this test, but you will be given an IV sedative to promote relaxation and comfort. The staff will place electrodes on your body so they can monitor your heart rate during the test.

To begin the test the physician will insert a catheter in the groin or upper thigh. The catheter will be fed from there up to the heart. When the catheter reaches the heart dye is injected through the catheter into the coronary artery.

Once the dye is injected the physician will take several angiograms. The physician will take still and moving angiograms. The patient may be asked to cough or take a couple of deep breaths to help circulate the dye before the physician takes the angiograms.

Once the coronary angiogram is finished the physician will remove the catheter. The hole will be sealed with a plug under the skin or pressure will be place on the catheters entry point. Stitches may also be used to close the entry point.

After the Procedure

After the procedure you will be taken to recovery. You will be monitored for about 2 to 8 hours and released. During this time you will lie in bed with your legs straight. You may feel groggy and have a bruise at the catheters entry point.

The following precautions should be taken after a coronary angiogram:

  • Do not lift heavy objects or engage in strenuous exercise or activity for several days.
  • Refrain from sexual activity for several days.
  • Follow care instructions carefully.
  • Check wound regularly for signs of bleeding, infection or swelling.


The coronary angiogram is considered one of the most accurate diagnostic tests for coronary artery disease and blockage. In fact, if a blockage is found during the procedure they can perform a percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI to open the blockage. The PCI can be done during the same coronary angiogram.

Risks and Complications

There are some risks associated with having a coronary angiogram. The following is a list of the most common risks and complications:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Arterial damage
  • Compression of the heart
  • Hematoma
  • Low blood pressure
  • Allergic reaction to dye
  • Hemorrhage
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Infection
  • Pain
  • Kidney damage

Contact your physician if any of the following things occur:

  • Chest pain
  • Numbness in legs
  • Fever above 100 degrees
  • Redness, swelling, drainage or warmth develops at entry site
  • Leg feels cold or blue
  • Bleeding of incision site
  • Bruising or swelling of incision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blood in urine
  • Black or tarry stool
  • Unusual bleeding