An angiogram is an X-ray test that uses contrast and camera to take pictures of the blood flow in an artery (such as the aorta) or a vein (such as the vena cava). An angiogram can be used to look at the arteries or veins in the head, arms, legs, and chest.
Types of Commonly Done Angiograms:
- Heart (coronary angiogram)
- Lungs (pulmonary angiogram)
- Brain (cerebral angiogram)
- Head and neck (carotid angiogram)
- Legs or arms (peripheral angiogram)
- Aorta (aortogram)
A coronary angiogram is a procedure that uses x-ray imaging and contrast dye to view the condition of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood to the heart. It is usually performed to find out if there is any restriction in the blood flow to the heart. A coronary angiogram is considered the “gold standard” to evaluate the Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). It helps to identify the exact location and severity of CAD.
Coronary Angiography can show the exact site and severity of any narrowing of the coronary arteries. This helps the cardiology doctor to decide the modality of the treatment depending on the extent of involvement. If the narrowing of the artery is mild, treatment will include the intake of medicines. If the narrowing is severe, Coronary Artery Bypass Graft or Coronary Angioplasty may be required.
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A pulmonary angiogram is an angiogram of the blood vessels of the lungs.
The procedure is done with a special contrast dye injected into the body’s blood vessels. This is done in the groin or arm. The dye shows up on X-rays. Fluoroscopy is often used during this test. This is like an X-ray “movie.” This lets your healthcare provider clearly see the vessels that send blood to and from the lungs.
Most commonly, the doctor will perform a pulmonary angiography if they suspect a blockage in pulmonary or lung vessels.
The doctor can also perform a pulmonary angiography for other issues in your body, such as a potential clot or pulmonary artery aneurysm. The doctor may also perform a pulmonary angiography if you were born with narrow blood vessels in and around your lungs, as this may manifest in heart issues and shortness of breath with activity. In many cases, the doctor may choose to use CT angiography instead of pulmonary angiography.
Cerebral angiography is a diagnostic test that uses an X-ray. It produces a cerebral angiogram or an image that can help your doctor find blockages or other abnormalities in the blood vessels of your head and neck. Blockages or abnormalities can lead to a stroke or bleed in the brain.
Cerebral angiography uses a catheter, x-ray imaging guidance and an injection of contrast material to examine blood vessels in the brain for abnormalities such as aneurysms and diseases such as atherosclerosis (plaque). The use of a catheter makes it possible to combine diagnosis and treatment in a single procedure. Cerebral angiography produces very detailed, clear and accurate pictures of blood vessels in the brain and may eliminate the need for surgery.
Carotid angiography is an invasive imaging procedure that involves inserting a catheter into a blood vessel in the arm or leg, and guiding it to the carotid arteries with the aid of a special x-ray machine. Contrast dye is injected through the catheter so that x-ray movies of your carotid arteries (the arteries that supply your brain with oxygen-rich blood) are taken. This procedure is considered the “gold standard” for imaging the carotid and cerebral vessels.
A peripheral angiogram is a test carried out to identify any blood vessel narrowing or blocked areas in the arteries supplying your pelvis, legs, knees, ankles and less frequently, your arms. The angiogram will determine whether there is any Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). PAD can cause narrowings or blockages in your peripheral arteries causing pain, discomfort, and tiredness (also referred to as claudication). The pain may disappear with rest. If a narrowing or blockage is found during an angiogram, a special balloon or stent (a fine mesh stainless steel tube) may be used to open up the narrowed portion of the artery. This is called Percutaneous Transluminal Angioplasty (PTA). In cases where there is an extreme blockage, you may be referred to a surgeon for bypass surgery.
Aortogram (Aortic Angiogram):
Aortic angiography is a procedure to test for the defects and functional problems in the aorta, your largest artery. Aorta begins in the left ventricle of the heart and extends till the abdomen. It’s responsible for delivering oxygen-rich blood to the entire body.
During the procedure, the doctor will inject a special dye into your arteries. Then they’ll use X-rays to look for potential problems with the aorta. The dye enhances visibility to help doctors identify defects and blood flow abnormalities.
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- Interobserver variability in coronary angiography: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/53/4/627.short
- Clinical Validity of a Normal Pulmonary Angiogram in Patients with Suspected Pulmonary Embolism—A Critical Review: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009926001907780
- Reversible cerebral segmental vasoconstriction: http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/19/9/1159.short
- Learning Curves and Reliability Measures for Virtual Reality Simulation in the Performance Assessment of Carotid Angiography: http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/47/9/1796