Angiography is a diagnostic procedure that is often performed on lung cancer patients. This procedure uses X-ray imaging to check the blood flow and pressure in the heart, and to determine if any coronary arteries are blocked. Your interventional radiologist may perform an angiogram if you are experiencing shortness of breath to check for blood clots or other blockage in the lungs, which is often associated with lung cancer.
Coronary angiograms fall under the umbrella of heart catheterization procedures, all of which help diagnose heart conditions. Your doctor may perform a coronary angiogram for the following reasons:
- To find the source of chest, jaw, neck or arm pain that can’t be explained by other tests
- If you were born with a heart defect
- If your doctor needs to rule out heart issues before a major surgery
If you need an angiography, you will be put under light sedation and dye will be injected through a catheter that is threaded through the leg to the chambers of your heart or coronary arteries. The X-ray machine takes detailed pictures as the dye moves through your blood vessels. The external X-ray camera will move around your chest and head to get detailed images from many angles.
The dye helps your doctor identify any blockage or abnormalities in your heart. If an issue is found, your doctor may perform a different catheterization procedure to fix the problem, such as implanting a stent to open up a narrowed artery.
A coronary angiogram usually takes one hour to perform. You will likely be awake for the procedure so you can follow directions such as changing your breathing pattern, coughing or moving your arms. Throughout the procedure, your doctor will monitor your blood pressure, the oxygen in your blood and your heart function. You may also be given medication to prevent your blood from clotting.
Following the procedure, the catheter is removed and the incision site is closed. You will be monitored until your condition is stable, at which time you will be asked to remain lying down for a few hours to prevent bleeding. Afterwards, you should refrain from strenuous activity for several days.