Angiography is a test that makes the arteries easily visible to X-rays with the help of an injection of fluid injected into the bloodstream.

When is angiography used?

Until recently, an angiogram was used to determine blood vessels’ condition. Today, non-invasive techniques provide the same information with less inconvenience and risk to the patient. These include Doppler, digital subtraction angiography (contrast is injected intravenously), ultrasound, CT, and MR.

  1. Angiography is used when surgery is predicted because it shows a clear picture of blood vessels.
  2. Angiography may reveal an aneurysm (an artery bulge caused by a weak blood vessel wall).
  3. An angiogram is also used to show the carotid artery and its branches in the neck and head. It is generally used to test for bleeding in the head ( cerebral hemorrhage ) or to identify the tumor’s blood supply. An angiogram helps assess whether surgery is necessary or possible.
  4. Angiography is used to show the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. The angiogram shows whether the arteries of the heart are narrowed.
  5. Angiography is used to show the arteries of the legs or kidneys and the aorta (the body’s largest artery).
  6. Angiography is used to examine the liver to localize abnormalities, including tumors. It can be instrumental when planning an operation.

How is angiography done?

Contrast is injected into a blood vessel before X-rays are taken. When angiography of the heart, carotid, or major branches of the aorta is performed, a catheter is inserted through the groin or sometimes through the arm.

  1. Before the catheter is inserted through the artery, the local area is numb with a local anesthetic.
  2. A short, thin wire with a rounded tip is inserted into the artery via a guiding needle and guided to the place where it is necessary to initiate contrast with the help of a fluoroscope (X-ray image).
  3. The needle is then removed, and the catheter is inserted over the inserted wire.
  4. When the catheter is in the correct position, the wire is removed, and contrast is injected through the catheter. The patient may feel a warming in the area, but this disappears in a few seconds.
  5. Now the blood vessel can be shown on the screen or a series of rapid X-rays.

Is angiography dangerous?

  1. A small number of patients are allergic to contrast, mainly to the iodine component. Anyone who has already had an allergic reaction, in contrast, must tell the doctor.
  2. There is little chance that the catheter will damage the blood vessel in which it is placed.
  3. Cerebral angiography carries a small but significant risk of adverse outcomes.
  4. It would help if you inquired about the risks of fetal X-ray damage for pregnant women.
  5. Patients suffering from serious liver, heart, or kidney diseases are at significantly increased risk and should consult a specialist.
  6. The risk of X-ray harmfulness is minimal. Modern X-rays are made to give very high-quality images with minimal doses of radiation.
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