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Left heart ventricular angiography

Left heart ventricular angiography is a procedure to look at the left side of the heart and, sometimes, the coronary arteries.

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 - 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

This test is done to detect:

  • A hole in the heart (ventricular septal defect)
  • Abnormalities of the left heart valves
  • An aneurysm of the heart wall
  • Areas of the heart that are not contracting normally
  • Blood flow problems on the left side of the heart
  • Heart-related blockages
  • The overall pump function of the heart

Normal Values

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

An abnormal result may suggest a problem with the left side of the heart or the heart valves. Coronary angiography may be needed when blockage of the coronary arteries is suspected.

What the risks are

Risks associated with this procedure include:

Special 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.

Updated: 5/22/2010

Issam Mikati, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Director, Northwestern Clinic Echocardiography Lab, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


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