What is an Angiogram, Know It’s Use, Types & How Safe is it?

An angiogram is always done by a specially trained team of medical professionals. The trained medical team essentially includes a radiologist who carries out the procedure, radiographers who are medical imaging technicians and nursing staff who operate the X-ray machine. The process of an angiogram is always done in a specially designed room called angiography suite which is similar to an operation theatre.

What is an Angiogram

What is an Angiogram & What is it Used for?

Angiogram or Angiography is a special type of X-ray to check the working of blood vessels in the patient’s body. Since blood vessels do not show up clearly in a normal X-ray, angiogram involves an X-ray test that uses a special dye and camera to take pictures of the blood flow in an artery or vein. The special dye is called contrast, which contains iodine which makes it visible under X-ray. An angiogram can be used to check the veins and arteries in the head, arms, legs, back, chest or abdomen.

In the most general sense, an angiogram is used to check the functioning of patient’s blood vessels and how blood flows through them. This allows the doctor to spot any problems affecting the blood vessels of the patient’s body. Angiogram can be of help in the diagnosis and treatment of the following conditions:

  • Narrowing of blood vessels, a condition called atherosclerosis which makes the patient susceptible to stroke or heart attack.
  • Reduced blood supply to leg and muscles, called peripheral arterial disease.
  • Blood clots or blockage in an artery supplying your lungs, called pulmonary embolism.
  • A bulge in the blood vessel in the patient’s brain, called brain aneurysm.
  • A blockage in the blood supply to kidneys.
  • Chest pain due to the restricted blood supply to the heart muscles, called angina.

What are the Types of Angiogram?

Depending on which body part is being investigated, angiogram can be of different types-

  • Coronary angiogram- to examine the patient’s heart and allied blood vessels.
  • Pulmonary angiogram- to examine the patient’s blood vessels aiding the lungs.
  • Cerebral angiogram- to examine the patient’s blood vessels in and around the brain.
  • Carotid angiogram- to examine the patient’s blood vessels in the neck that lead to the brain.
  • Renal angiogram- to check the blood vessels aiding the patient’s kidneys.

Are Angiograms Safe?

An angiogram is primarily a safe medical imaging technique and serious complications are relatively less. Since it involves an injection of dye in the body part to be examined with the help of a catheter, at times, there can be bleeding from the area the catheter was placed in. The patient might develop a collection of blood under the skin. This can be uncomfortable, but it generally goes down within a few days completely. With the recommendations of the doctor, an angiogram is generally safe for the elderly. However, in case of any concern, the doctor should be consulted. It is to be remembered that it is vital to discuss the angiogram report with the doctor who referred the patient.

What to Inform the Doctor Before Undergoing An Angiogram?

Although the patient’s total medical history should be known by the doctor before recommending the angiogram, patient should inform the doctor:

  • If the patient is/might be pregnant.
  • If the patient is allergic to iodine dye to be used in the test.
  • If the patient has a history of asthma.
  • If the patient is breastfeeding.
  • If the patient has any bleeding problem.
  • If the patient is under/is allergic to any kind of medication.
  • If the patient has any history of kidney related problems or suffering from diabetes.

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