After you arrive, the doctor or a nurse will shave the hair off the area where the angiogram catheter will be placed. Catheters are inserted in the groin, arm or wrist. The area will then be cleaned with antiseptic and you’ll be given an injection of local anaesthetic to numb the area. Your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored.
The catheter is then inserted and carefully threaded through the artery all the way into your heart. The doctors will be monitoring the trajectory of the catheter on video screens. By injecting dye into the arteries, they can view any blockages using x-ray images. You shouldn't feel any pain at this point but you may feel a temporary flushing sensation on your skin as a side effect of the dye.
When a blockage is located, a second catheter is inserted inside the first one. A balloon on its tip is inflated to re-open the artery. You may feel some pain when the balloon is inflated.
While the catheter is in the artery, one or more stents may be placed to prevent the artery from re-narrowing.
After the procedures are complete, the catheter is removed and pressure is applied to minimise bleeding.
Then the wound is dressed and you’re taken to the recovery room. The procedure usually takes about 90 minutes depending on the complexity.