How the test is
How to prepare
for the test
How the test
What the risks
Why the test
Angiography is a procedure in which a contrast material
that can be seen using X-ray equipment is injected into
one of the arteries or veins, allowing your health care
provider to see the vessels. A computerised imaging
system may be used to further enhance the pictures.
Arteriogram (for Arteries), Venogram (for Veins). Digital
Subtraction Angiography (DSA) is a computerised angiography
system commonly used for most angiography.
How the test is performed
An angiogram can be used to examine almost any artery
or vein, including those of the head, kidneys, heart,
or lungs. It is sometimes used as part of a procedure
to repair the blood vessels called balloon angioplasty.
The study is carried out in a laboratory by a trained
cardiologist or radiologist and technicians or nurses.
First the doctor will need insert an intravenous (IV)
line into one of the blood vessels in your arm, chest,
neck, or groin.
For arteriograms, a catheter is then inserted through
the IV and into your blood vessels using an X-ray machine
that produces "live" pictures. Once the catheter
is placed into the blood vessel of interest, contrast
material is injected and pictures are taken. Sometimes
it takes a long time for the doctors to get the catheter
into just the right spot. It can be compared to threading
a needle for sewing.
For venograms, often a catheter is not required. Often
a small needle is inserted into a vein in the arm or
leg, and contrast material introduced directly through
How to prepare for the test
Food and fluid are restricted 6 to 8 hours before the
test. The procedure takes place in the hospital and
you will be asked to wear a hospital gown. Sometimes,
admission the night before the test is required. Otherwise,
you will be admitted as an outpatient or an inpatient
the morning of the procedure.
Your health care provider should explain the procedure
and its risks. A witnessed, signed consent for the procedure
Tell your doctor if you are allergic to seafood, if
you have had a bad reaction to contrast material in
the past, if you are taking Viagra, or if you might
How the test will feel
You will generally feel some discomfort at the site
where the IV is placed. Most blood vessels do not have
nerve endings, so you probably won't feel the catheter
inside of your body.
Depending upon the type of arteriogram being performed,
you may experience a variety of symptoms when the doctor
injects the contrast material. For example, with a arteriogram
of the head (cerebral arteriogram), you may feel a brief
flushing feeling in your head.
If the IV is placed in your groin, you will usually
be asked to lie flat on your back for a few hours after
the test to avoid bleeding. This may cause some mild
What the risks are
The risks for this procedure depend on the type of
arteriogram performed. You should ask your doctor about
the risks before you agree to have the test performed.
In general, there is a risk of bleeding, infection,
and pain at the IV site.
There is always a very small risk that the soft plastic
catheters could actually damage the blood vessels.
Blood clots could form on the catheters and later block
blood vessels elsewhere in the body.
The contrast material could damage the kidneys (particularly
in patients with diabetes).
Other risks may be present as well.
Why the test is performed
The reasons for this test depend on the type of angiogram
that will be performed.
In general, arteriograms give the best pictures of
the body's blood vessels. Arteriograms are used to make
specific diagnoses and to help determine what the best
treatment is in a particular case. Often, the treatment
itself can be performed using the same type of catheters
used in the arteriogram, instead of requiring a more
extensive surgery in an additional procedure.
Text courtesy of Yahoo! Health Encyclopedia.
Back to Top