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Diagnostic Procedures

Coronary Angiography is an X-ray examination of the blood vessels or chambers of the heart performed through cardiac catheterization to pinpoint possible problems in heart arteries.

A very small tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel through the groin or arm. The tip of the tube is positioned either in the heart or at the beginning of the arteries supplying the heart, and a special fluid called a contrast medium or dye is injected. This fluid is visible by X-ray and the pictures obtained are called angiograms.

Angiograms show how the blood circulates in the arteries, supplying blood to the heart. In particular, this procedure provides important information about the function of the heart’s left ventricle, and also identifies blocked or narrowed coronary arteries. This diagnostic procedure also helps determine which arteries need immediate surgery, which blockages may eventually need surgery, and which blockages can be treated with diet, exercise and medicine.

Intravascular ultrasound is a cardiac catheterization procedure occasionally used to diagnose coronary artery disease when the results of angiography are uncertain. During the procedure, a transducer (a tiny ultrasound camera mounted on a catheter) sends and receives sound waves. The catheter is threaded through a blood vessel up into the coronary arteries. The transducer rotates within the arteries to create a complete image of the thickness and amount of plaque buildup in the arterial walls. This imaging also helps the cardiologist to determine the size and selection of stents and balloons that could be used for therapeutic catheterization to unblock the artery.

Invasive Physiologic Assessment is another cardiac catheterization procedure that is occasionally used to diagnose coronary artery disease when the results of angiography or of a stress test are uncertain. A small wire with a pressure transducer is advanced through the blockage in the coronary artery. The transducer allows measurement of pressures before and after the blockage in the artery. Large differences in pressures are indicative of a significant blockage that needs treatment

Vascular Angiography