What is Angiogram?

An angiogram is an x-ray of the arteries and the veins to detect blockage or narrowing of the blood vessels. An Interventional Cardiologist performs the angiogram.

Angiogram types

There are several types of angiograms used to diagnose a variety of conditions.

  • Computed tomography angiography
  • Pulmonary angiogram
  • Radionuclide angiogram
  • Renal angiogram
  • Cerebral angiograph
  • Visceral angiography(abdominal organs or viscera)
  • Lymphangiography
  • Retinal angiography
  • Digital subtraction angiography
  • Magnetic resonance angiography
  • Coronary angiogram

Angiogram Uses

Angiogram or Angiography is used to examine the condition of the blood vessels and the way the blood flows through them. It helps to diagnose several health conditions and problems pertaining to the blood vessels which include:

  • Atherosclerosis- Narrowing of the arteries which could mean you are at risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
  • Peripheral arterial disease- Reduced blood supply to the leg muscles.
  • A bulge in a blood vessel in the brain.
  • Angina- Chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscles.
  • Pulmonary embolism- A blockage in the artery supplying blood to your lungs.
  • A blockage in the artery supplying blood to the kidneys.
  • Angiogram for periodic followup after cardiac transplantation.

Difference between Angiogram and Angioplasty

Angiogram Angioplasty
Angiogram is carried out to visualise the lumen of the blood vessels for detecting blockages.Coronary angioplasty is a method of clearing blockage and improving blood flow through a narrow artery with the help of devices like balloons or stents.
It is indicated when the patient has a positive stress test, chest pain or heart attack.It is indicated when there is significant blockage in any of the 3 blood vessels supplying the heart.
The procedure involves introducing catheter through arteries of leg or arm and injecting dye to take images of the arteries.The procedure involves insertion of catheter through arteries of leg or arm and injecting a dye. As soon as blockages come into view, an ultrathin wire is used to cross the blockage which is observed on x-ray screen.Once the wire is positioned, the balloon is passed over the wire and inflated, compressing the fat deposits against the wall of the blood vessel.The balloon is then deflated and withdrawn. Later balloon carrying stents are placed permanently, holding the blood vessel open which improves the blood flow.
Angiography is used to investigate your blood vessels for potential heart condition.Angioplasty involves widening the narrowed arteries to treat the condition.

Angiogram Procedure

Before the procedure

  • An interventional cardiologist will specify how to prepare.
  • 6-8 hours before the procedure, you should probably avoid eating and drinking.
  • Occasionally, it could be necessary to stop taking some drugs.
  • Investigations such as ECG, blood tests, an exercise stress test, and chest x ray are performed.
  • Doctor will select an area for an arterial access point.
  • According to the area of access point, shaving of the groine or wrist is done.

During the procedure

  • You will be given intravenous sedation.
  • The area of either upper arm or the top of the leg where the catheter will be inserted will be cleaned.
  • The doctor will then put a local anaesthetic on the skin. The catheter is inserted into the artery in the numbed area.
  • The catheter is guided to the artery that is being studied by watching it on an x-ray screen.
  • After the catheter is properly positioned, contrast (an x-ray dye) will be injected through it as X-ray images are being taken. You might experience momentary warmth after the contrast is injected.
  • The procedure lasts for approximately 30 to 60 minutes.

After the procedure

  • The catheter will be taken out of the artery by the interventional cardiologist..
  • For 10 to 20 minutes, pressure will be applied to the area where the catheter was inserted in order to prevent bleeding from the artery .
  • You will remain in the hospital for 4-6 hours. The hospital staff will observe you to make sure everything is well.
  • After the observation period, you can go home.
  • You should avoid strenuous activities to prevent bleeding where the catheter was placed.

Angiogram Results

An angiogram can show doctors what's wrong with your blood vessels. It can:

  • Show how many of your arteries are blocked or narrowed by fatty deposits.
  • Pinpoint where blockage of artery is present.
  • Check the results of previous bypass surgery.
  • Verify the blood flow through your heart and blood vessels
Normal angiogram or mild blockageThe angiography may occasionally be normal and show no narrowing. In other cases, the angiography may reveal mild narrowing with an arterial diameter reduction of less than 50%.
Blockage in small arteriesSmall arteries or branches that serve just a small portion of the heart may be narrow. If the artery diameter is smaller than 2 cm, these are often left. In these cases, treatment with medication is recommended.
Severe blockage in one or two major arteriesIn cases where one or two arteries have severe narrowings, doctors may recommend angioplasty in which a special device called balloon or stent is used to open a narrowed vessel.
Severe blockage in multiple arteriesIt is often treated with bypass surgery

What is the cost of Angiogram?

The average cost of angiography in India is approximately Rs. 35,000. However, the prices may vary depending upon the part of the body for which the procedures is done, complexity involved in the procedure, the hospital you choose, and the city you are in

Angiogram Risks and Complications

All invasive procedures can have complications which can be managed. The most common complications related to the arterial access site are:

  • Bruising
  • Pain and bleeding
  • Blockage or leakage

Other complications related to an angiogram include:

  • Kidney failure may arise as a result of an allergic reaction to the iodine contrast dye.
  • Very rarely, a portion of the artery blockage can detach (embolism) and move to further arteries during balloon angioplasty or stent placement. This can worsen blood flow.

Angiogram Recovery time

  • You need to stay in the hospital for 2 to 3 hours after the procedure. Angiogram is a minimally invasive procedure, which means it requires no overnight hospital stays, very limited bleeding, and very less recovery time.
  • However, in certain cases, based on your individual response to the procedure, you might need a little longer hospital stay or recovery time about which you will be guided by the doctor.
  • You definitely need to take rest for a day or two and then resume your activities. However, keep avoiding any strenuous physical activity.

People often confuse with the terms angiogram and angioplasty which sound the same and often used together. Let’s understand what is the difference between these two terms.

Angiogram at Medicover Hospitals

At Medicover Hospitals, we have the best team of interventional cardiologists who perform angiogram with precision while following all the safety protocols. We also have no-contrast or zero-contrast angiography procedure done by the experts, which makes angiograms safe for kidney and diabetic patients.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How serious is an angiogram?

Angiogram is generally a safe procedure, but minor risks are common as any other procedure.

2. What are the types of Angiogram?

The various types of angiogram are coronary, pulmonary, renal, cerebral, digital subtraction angiography, magnetic resonance angiography, lymphangiography and retinal angiography.

3. How long does it take for an angiogram to be done?

The angiogram procedure may last for 30 to 60 minutes.

4. Is angiogram painful?

An angiogram is not usually painful. A doctor uses local anaesthesia to numb the area, so the pain is not felt during the procedure. There might be certain discomfort at the site of the insertion after the procedure is done which will resolve on its own.

5. What is Angiogram vs Arteriogram?

Angiogram is also known as arteriogram which is used to detect blockages of blood vessels.

6. What is Angiogram vs Heart Catheter?

Angiogram done specifically on vessels supplying to the heart is referred to as heart catheter. The terms are used interchangeably often. It is also known as cardiac angiography in which the doctor gets images known as coronary angiograms or arteriograms using a cardiac catheter and scanning technology. These pictures can assist in determining whether a person's arteries are blocked or not.

7. What are 3 risks of having an angiogram?

The 3 common risks which can occur during angiogram are bleeding, allergic reaction and kidney damage due to injection of iodine based dye. However, there are zero-contrast angiograms also done these days which eliminates the risk of kidney damage.

8. What is the recovery time after an angiogram?

Depending on the area where the doctor punctures, recovery usually takes between 2-4 hours in the hospital.

9. Which hospitals do angiogram procedures?

The angiogram procedure is done in hospitals equipped with CATH Lab by a certified interventional cardiologist.