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Coronary Angiography Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy Coronary angiography is a method used by mainstream medicine for evaluating and defining coronary artery disease (CAD). Coronary angiography is used to identify the location of CAD. A catheter (a hollow tube with a diameter of 2-3 mm.) is inserted through the skin into an artery in the groin or the arm. Guided with the assistance of a fluoroscope (a special x-ray viewing instrument), the catheter is then advanced to the opening of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart where a small amount of radiographic contrast (a solution containing radioactive iodine, which is easily visualized by x-ray) is injected into each coronary artery. The images that are produced are called an angiogram. Angiographic images reveal a two dimensional view of any coronary arterial blockages which might be present. Coronary angiography is performed with the use of local anesthesia and intravenous sedation, and is generally not too uncomfortable. The procedure takes approximately 20-30 minutes. After the procedure, the catheter is removed and the artery in the leg or arm is sutured, "sealed," or treated with manual compression to prevent bleeding. There is a risk of serious complications from coronary angiography, as it is an "invasive" test, and this risk includes death. In skilled, experienced hands the statistical risk is below one per cent. While doctors claim to be able to read the "percentage blockage" using coronary angiography, double blind studies have shown that this is only a very rough estimate. Nevertheless, these "percentages" are used with patients as if they were hard scientific facts to be used in the decision making process involving more invasive procedures such as angioplasty and coronary bypass. The non-invasive alterative to the coronary angiogram is called the heart scan imaging technique.



The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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