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Coronary Arteriography

Cardiac Catheterization (Coronary Arteriography)

Mapping of the coronary arteries is done using a procedure called cardiac catheterization (coronary arteriography). A doctor guides a thin plastic tube (called a catheter) through an artery in the arm or leg and leads it into the coronary arteries. Then, the doctor injects a liquid dye through the catheter. The dye is visible in X-rays which record the course of the dye as it flows through the arteries. By mapping the dye's flow, the doctor identifies blocked areas. Once the mapping is done, the doctor can decide the best course of action.

Many tests for diagnosing and treating coronary artery disease (angiography and electrophysiology studies) are performed during a process called cardiac catheterization. These tests are done in the hospital's cardiac catheterization labs. They are administered by our specially trained cardiologists.

About the procedure: During the procedure, cardiologists thread a long, thin tube (catheter) through an artery or vein in the leg, arm or wrist (transradial procedure) and into the heart. Dye is injected through the catheter to see the heart and its arteries. This test is called a coronary angiograph. In another type of test, electrical impulses may be sent through the catheter to study irregular heartbeats. These tests are called electrophysiology studies (EPS).

Prior to the procedure, the area where the catheter will be inserted is numbed using an anesthetic agent. The cardiologist locates the artery then gently threads the catheter through the artery and into the heart.

Once the catheter is in place, dye is injected and the catheterization team will take pictures of the coronary arteries (a coronary angiograph). This allows the cardiologist to see if there is blockage in the arteries and to determine the location of the blockage.

Transradial catheterization - Increasingly, specialists are using the transradial method to view the coronary arteries. This approach involves threading a small catheter through the radial artery of the wrist.

The transradial catheterization method has several benefits for the patient.

Radial artery access allows the patient to regain mobility faster after the procedure and has a lower risk of bleeding than the more traditional method of using an artery in the groin area. Not all patients are candidates for this procedure. The cardiologist will determine if the patient is able to undergo this type of catheterization.

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