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.
- Angiography is used when surgery is predicted because it shows a clear picture of blood vessels.
- Angiography may reveal an aneurysm (an artery bulge caused by a weak blood vessel wall).
- 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.
- 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.
- Angiography is used to show the arteries of the legs or kidneys and the aorta (the body’s largest artery).
- 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.
- Before the catheter is inserted through the artery, the local area is numb with a local anesthetic.
- 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).
- The needle is then removed, and the catheter is inserted over the inserted wire.
- 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.
- Now the blood vessel can be shown on the screen or a series of rapid X-rays.
Is angiography dangerous?
- 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.
- There is little chance that the catheter will damage the blood vessel in which it is placed.
- Cerebral angiography carries a small but significant risk of adverse outcomes.
- It would help if you inquired about the risks of fetal X-ray damage for pregnant women.
- Patients suffering from serious liver, heart, or kidney diseases are at significantly increased risk and should consult a specialist.
- The risk of X-ray harmfulness is minimal. Modern X-rays are made to give very high-quality images with minimal doses of radiation.