What is it for?
Many tests that assess function of the heart and blood vessels can be accomplished with noninvasive cardiovascular imaging techniques. For other cases, a catheter (thin tube) is used to check the pumping of the heart, the function of valves, blood flow and blood pressure.
How is it done?
A local anesthetic is administered, and a small catheter is then inserted into a blood vessel in the arm or leg and guided toward the area to be examined. Mild sedation is given prior to the procedure.
An angiogram provides a picture of blood flow inside an artery. General angiograms are used to evaluate the arteries in the arms, legs, chest or abdomen. Special angiograms examine the arteries near the heart (coronary angiogram), lungs (pulmonary angiogram), brain (cerebral angiogram) and aorta (aortogram). An iodine compound (a colorless liquid dye) is injected through the catheter. While using X-ray, motion pictures are made as the dye travels through the arteries.
Fractional Flow Reserve (FFR)
Fractional Flow Reserve is a technique that measures a change in pressure. It evaluates the amount of blood flow that is lost because of a narrowing in your artery. A catheter with a tiny sensor on the tip is inserted into the artery and blood pressure and blood flow readings are taken.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
Optical Coherence Tomorgraphy is a technology that provides live, high-resolution images of the inside walls of the artery. This technique uses harmless low-frequency light and can provide detailed images without the use of radiation.
Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS)
A catheter containing a tiny ultrasound camera is guided into the artery to provide a picture of the location and extent of the fatty deposits (plaque). This procedure may be done in conjunction with a coronary angiogram and typically adds 5 to 10 minutes to the procedure.
What happens after the test?
Information taken from the test will help the doctors decide if further treatment is necessary. Blocked arteries are sometimes treated with medicines, but other treatment options may include angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery.