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Left heart ventricular angiography

Definition:

Left heart ventricular angiography is a procedure to look at the left-sided heart chambers and the function of the left-sided valves. It is sometimes combined with coronary angiography.



Alternative Names:

Angiography - left heart; Left ventriculography



How the Test is Performed:

Before the test, you will be given medicine to help you relax. You will be awake and able to follow instructions during the test.

An intravenous line is placed in your arm. The health care provider cleans and numbs an area on your arm or groin. A cardiologist makes a small cut in the area, and inserts a thin flexible tube (catheter) into an artery. Using x-rays as a guide, the doctor carefully moves the thin tube (catheter) into your heart.

When the tube is in place, dye is injected through it. The dye flows through the blood vessels, making them easier to see. X-rays are taken as the dye moves through the blood vessels. These x-ray pictures create a "movie" of the left ventricle as it contracts rhythmically.

The procedure may last from 1 to several hours.



How to Prepare for the Test:

You will be told not to eat or drink for 6 to 8 hours before the test. The procedure takes place in the hospital. Some people may need to stay in the hospital the night before the test.

A health care provider will explain the procedure and its risks. You must sign a consent form for the procedure.



How the Test will Feel:

You may feel pressure when the catheter is inserted. Occasionally, a flushing sensation occurs when the dye is injected.



Why the Test is Performed:

Left heart angiography is performed to assess the blood flow through the left side of the heart.



Normal Results:

A normal result shows normal blood flow through the left side of the heart. Blood volumes and pressures are also normal.



What Abnormal Results Mean:
  • A hole in the heart (ventricular septal defect)
  • Abnormalities of the left heart valves
  • An aneurysm of the heart wall
  • Areas of the heart are not contracting normally
  • Blood flow problems on the left side of the heart
  • Heart-related blockages
  • Weakened pumping function of the left ventricle

Coronary angiography may be needed when blockage of the coronary arteries is suspected.



Risks:

Risks associated with this procedure include:

  • Abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias )
  • Allergic reaction to dye
  • Artery or vein damage
  • Cardiac tamponade
  • Embolism from blood clots at the tip of the catheter
  • Heart failure due to the volume of the dye
  • Infection
  • Kidney failure from the dye
  • Low blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Hemorrhage
  • Stroke


Considerations:

Right heart catheterization may be combined with this procedure.

Left heart ventricular angiography has some risk because it is an invasive procedure. Other imaging techniques may carry less risk, such as:

Your health care provider may decide to perform one of these procedures instead of left heart ventricular angiography.



References:

Davidson CJ, Bonow DO. Cardiac catheterization. In: Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO,  Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap. 19.




Review Date: 11/4/2014
Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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