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.
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 one 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 provider will explain the procedure and its risks. You must sign a consent form for the procedure.
How the Test will Feel
You will feel a sting and burn when the local anesthetic is injected. You may feel pressure when the catheter is inserted. Occasionally, a flushing sensation or a feeling that you need to urinate 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.
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
Abnormal results may be due to:
- 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 associated with this procedure include:
- Abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias)
- Allergic reaction to dye or sedating medicines
- 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
- Kidney failure from the dye
- Low blood pressure
- Heart attack
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 provider may decide to perform one of these procedures instead of left heart ventricular angiography.
Angiography - left heart; Left ventriculography
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Patel MR, Bailey SR, Bonow RO, et al. ACCF/SCAI/AATS/AHA/ASE/ASNC/HFSA/HRS/SCCM/SCCT/SCMR/STS 2012 appropriate use criteria for diagnostic catheterization: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation Appropriate Use Criteria Task Force, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, American Association for Thoracic Surgery, American Heart Association, American Society of Echocardiography, American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, Heart Failure Society of America, Heart Rhythm Society, Society of Critical Care Medicine, Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography, Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012;59(22):1995-2027. PMID: 22578925 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22578925/.
Webb GD, Smallhorn JF, Therrien J, Redington AN. Congenital heart disease in the adult and pediatric patient. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, et al. eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 75.
Review Date 12/7/2020
Updated by: Thomas S. Metkus, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.