An angiogram is a way to determine the condition of the arteries in the heart. The doctor puts a catheter (fine hollow tube) into your artery from your groin region and feeds it up to the heart and then pumps dye into the heart so that any artery blockages or problems show up on xray.
You are told that there’s a 1 in 1000 chance of death or a stroke and sign a consent form. I had a certain amount of concern over this element, but not of the procedure itself.
I arrived at the hospital at 8:00 am on Christmas Eve. The ward was quiet, just three patients having the treatment. I was second in line. It’s a very smooth process. They can perform 12 per day in this hospital. You are told in advance to shave the left and right of your groin area. I looked up on the net to see if I could see where the insertion was made so I could determine where exactly to shave.
I couldn’t find anything so for anyone about to proceed with this treatment, you just need a clear area around the crease of your inner thigh – see pic (area highlighted by red frame is where you need to shave -on both sides)). Hopefully this will reassure you.
The photo also shows the bruise caused by the process taken one week later. Now as I write this, I just have a very faint outline of that bruise. (Edit it took one month to disappear completely)
Is it painful? If you can put up with needles no! The area around your groin is numbed with aesthetic so you just have a weird sensation of the insertion. You lay on a bed and a large 14-16in plate is manoeuvred over your chest area to get a good xray of the heart from all directions. You are asked to take a series of deep breaths and hold as the xrays are taken.
I’d read in the book that I may feel weird in the groin as though I was peeing myself, and also that there may be a hot sensation in the chest. As I lay watching the x-rays being made – I felt none of this. But then when I thought it was over the surgeon said that I may feel the peeing and heat. And I did, but it was just like butterflies you sometimes get and nothing too uncomfortable. The whole process was about 30-40mins.
To reassure anyone with this a head of them don’t worry it’s no worse than a trip to the dentist for a filling – if anything less uncomfortable. And you wear paper pants so you’re not exposed.
After the treatment A nurse holds padding over your incision point for a few minutes and then you take over for 15mins. Make sure you’re comfortable!
Then you are wheeled back to your ward. You have to lie still for one hour. The you can sit up for an hour, then get out of bed and sit in a chair for an hour and then put your clothes on and return home. During this rehab session the consultant shares the results with you.
It turns out I have a totally blocked artery that cannot be opened using stents. Fortunately a nearby artery is providing necessary blood to that muscle, but I’m told I need to have treadmill test to test my heart stress levels and determine whether an operation is needed.
My leg ached for a couple of days but nothing problematic.
to be continued…