how angiography is done

Blood means life, and anything that restricts the flow of this life-sustaining fluid is bound to create varying degrees of tension in us. Doctors, however, have taken care of this problem too and created a procedure that can detect abnormalities in blood flow without any actual surgery.

Angiography, also known as arteriogram or angiogram is a day procedure that is used to evaluate various vascular conditions existing in the body and producing unclarified symptoms. Angiographies can be used to detect abnormalities in blood vessels including tears leading to internal bleeding, aneurysms leading to weaknesses in the walls of blood vessels or blocks leading to narrowing of blood vessels, to name a few.

Angiographies may also throw up the blood flow pattern of tumors as well as their spread, and guide the treatment regimen. The procedure can also be used to look for changes in blood vessels due to injury, ulcers or peripheral arterial disease. Coronary artery disease and the extent of atherosclerosis can also be determined with this procedure.

Angiography is an X-ray assisted procedure that employs the use of a special dye and fluoroscopic camera to take pictures of the blood flow patterns in the arteries and veins of the part of the body being studied. The procedure identifies abnormalities in the blood vessels and is the same regardless of which part of the body is being studied.

The patient is made to lie on an X-ray table and straps fixed across the chest and legs as the table maybe tilted during the course of the procedure. X-ray cameras move overhead taking images from various angles. An IV line is set up and the patient may be given a mild sedative to help them relax. The IV may also be used to administer other medications or fluids. The ECG as well as blood pressure will be monitored throughout the procedure; a pulse oximeter will also be monitoring blood oxygen levels continuously.

A small incision is made in the groin (femoral artery or vein) or just above the elbow (in the brachial artery or vein) and a thin tube called a catheter is threaded through the vessel and an iodine dye is injected, making the vessels stand out clearly on X-rays. By observing the flow of dye through the vessels, the doctor will be able to identify areas of abnormalities that need further treatment.

Sometimes, during the course of the angiography, further treatment is rendered to the patient; in the case of a coronary angiography, a stent may be placed to open up an artery or in the case of a bleeding, injured vessel, the catheter may be used to deliver medications to stop the bleeding. The whole procedure normally takes about an hour, but can be longer when other treatments are also rendered.

The patient is made to rest in the hospital for 4-6 hours after the procedure for signs of any complications before sending home.

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