A coronary angiogram is a procedure that uses X-ray imaging to see your heart’s blood vessels. The test is generally done to see if there’s a restriction in blood flow going to the heart.
Coronary angiograms are part of a general group of procedures known as heart (cardiac) catheterizations. Cardiac catheterization procedures can both diagnose and treat heart and blood vessel conditions. A coronary angiogram, which can help diagnose heart conditions, is the most common type of cardiac catheterization procedure.
During a coronary angiogram, a type of dye that’s visible by an X-ray machine is injected into the blood vessels of your heart. The X-ray machine rapidly takes a series of images (angiograms), offering a look at your blood vessels. If necessary, your doctor can open clogged heart arteries (angioplasty) during your coronary angiogram.
Why it’s done
Your doctor may recommend that you have a coronary angiogram if you have:
Symptoms of coronary artery disease, such as chest pain (angina)
Pain in your chest, jaw, neck or arm that can’t be explained by other tests
New or increasing chest pain (unstable angina)
A heart defect you were born with (congenital heart disease)
Abnormal results on a noninvasive heart stress test
Other blood vessel problems or a chest injury
A heart valve problem that requires surgery
Because there’s a small risk of complications, angiograms aren’t usually done until after noninvasive heart tests have been performed, such as an electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram or a stress test.