Angiography is a procedure that helps view the anatomy of the blood vessels. A radiocontrast dye is injected into the bloodstream, and an x-ray is taken. The x-ray images thus obtained are termed angiograms. The angiogram depicts the exact structure and pathway of the blood vessels. It helps diagnose any blockages or anomalies on its path.
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The type of angiography depends on the part of the body suspected. Some common types include:
- • Cerebral angiography
- • Coronary angiography
- • Renal angiography
- • Pulmonary angiography
- • Fluorescein angiography
- • Microangiography
Angiograms are not only performed using x-rays but can also be visualized using CT scans and MRI.
When is the procedure needed?
Angiography is a diagnostic procedure for:
- Peripheral artery disease
- Aneurysm of the brain
- Atherosclerosis or narrowing of the blood vessels
- Pulmonary embolism or the presence of blood clots in the lung vessels
- To see the obstruction of blood supply to the kidneys
Who are the ideal candidates for Angiography?
Patients who need to undergo angiography include:
- Patients with a recent heart attack
- Prior to a bypass surgery
- Unstable angina or chest pain
- When the results of a treadmill test are abnormal
- To observe the chances of rejection in patients with a transplanted heart
- To evaluate the condition of coronary artery disease
- Syncope or fainting of patients with aortic valve disease
- Other heart valve diseases show symptoms
Who should not consider Angiography?
Angiography is contraindicated in the following cases:
- • Renal failure or impaired renal function
- • Fever
- • Imbalance of electrolytes in the body
- • An active infection in the body system
- • When the patient is allergic to the contrast dye
- • Hypertension
- • Anemia
- • Arrhythmias
- • Heart failure
- • Transient ischemic attack
- • Coagulopathy
What happens during an Angiography procedure?
The patient is given a sedative during an angiography procedure to prevent pain. Next, an incision in the groin area or wrist is made to insert a catheter within the artery. Then, the catheter is guided to the suspected area, and a contrasting dye is injected. Lastly, a series of x-rays or images are taken for examination.
Angiography is an outpatient procedure and takes about 30 mins to two hours to perform. This means that the patient can return home on the same day. Rarely, if complications occur, patients may have to stay at the hospital until the problem is resolved.
How to prepare for the procedure?
Sometimes, angiography is performed in an emergency. However, most often, it is scheduled prior. Doctors instruct the following:
- • Avoid eating or drinking after midnight a day before the procedure.
- • Take medications as usual
- • Speak to the doctor about taking diabetic medicines or insulin if diabetic.
Angiography is not a risky procedure. However, some patients may experience:
- • Bruising
- • Soreness
- • Small lump at the site of injection of the dye
- • Allergic reaction to the contrasting dye
- • Hypotension or low blood pressure
- • Irregular heartbeats
- • Stroke (rare)
- • Heart attack (rare)
Care after Procedure
The patient is monitored in the recovery room once the procedure is completed. They are then transferred to the standard room or sent home. Sometimes the test results can be collected on the same day or within a few days.
Doctors recommend taking adequate rest after the procedure and being observant of the following:
- • Observe for any signs of nausea or vomiting after the procedure. Moreover, if you notice any other discomfort, inform your doctor.
- • Eat adequate food and drink plenty of water to easily eliminate the body's dye.
- • Avoid strenuous activities for a few days. However, you can return to normal activities the same day.