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DIAGNOSTIC INVESTIGATIONS: CLINICAL LABOROTARYTESTS - SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS - CORONARY ANGIOGRAPHY

Q. There are some special investigations carried out on heart patients. What are they and what is their significance? A. The special investigations are:

* Coronary angiography.

* Echocardiography.

* Cardiac scintiscan.

Coronary Angiography

Q. What is coronary angiography ?

A. Coronary arteries are not opaque to X-rays; hence you cannot see them on an ordinary X-ray film of the heart. If you can somehow inject a contrast medium, say a chemical which is opaque to X-rays, into the coronary arteries, they can be visualised and any blockage identified. Dr Werner Forsmann made this possible when he experimented on himself in 1929 by inserting a catheter into the vein of his arm and pushing it towards the heart. (He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1946 for his work.)

Q. What does coronary angiography show ?

A. Through coronary angiography, not only can the coronary arteries be visualised and studied, any blockage identified and their location noted for the benefit of the surgeon who is to carry out bypass surgery but also the left ventricle of the heart can be studied for any defect such as an aneurysm caused by an infarction. This examination is done to determine if any surgery is required and feasible for the removal of or bypassing of the obstruction in the coronary arteries. It can also be used to remove any defect (aneurysm) of the ventricular wall.

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