What is angiography?

What is angiography?

Angiography ( Angio = blood vessel, graphy = process of recording) 

is a process of recording the patency and structure of blood vessels internally. It is commonly done to detect any blockage in your heart vessels ( coronary angiography) or blockage in blood vessels of the brain ( cerebral angiography). 

It is either done conventionally using a catheter and an X-ray machine or non conventionally using a CT scan ( CT angiography) or rarely MRI ( MR Angiography).

Conventional angiography:

An artery is chosen preferably the one in the groin ( femoral artery). A catheter is introduced with the help of a needle and an introducer up to the vessel required to be studied. Dye/ contrast material is injected through the catheter and the flow of the dye is studied using x-ray pictures. These pictures can be stored and re-evaluated. The picture is called an angiogram.

Coronary Angiography is a test of choice when the cardiologist suspects coronary artery disease based on stress testing (TMT), thallium scan, or stress echocardiography reports.

Angiography is the final test to determine the number and severity and length of the blockage. The results of angiography along with clinical evaluation will help the cardiologist in taking a decision regarding the treatment required whether angioplasty, bypass surgery or conservative mode of treatment.

In angiography procedure a special dye is injected into the coronary arteries of heart and x rays are taken, the dye shows up on X-ray monitor and reveals the presence of a blockage.

The procedure of coronary angiography approximately takes 15-20 minutes, Usually, the catheter is inserted through the femoral artery, local anaesthesia is given and skin incision made and the catheter is inserted and manipulated through the bloodstream to the artery while viewing continuously through the x-ray device, the contrast agent is injected to make the blood vessels visible and x-rays are taken helping the cardiologist study the flow of blood through the blood vessels and help the doctor find any blockages.

After the procedure, the artery is compressed for 10-15 minutes and compression bandage applied, advised against moving the limb for few hours as it may cause the artery to bleed, also to take in plenty of fluids so that dye is washed out. The dressing placed over the angiography puncture site is removed the day after the procedure, you can wet the area thereafter and no further dressing is required.

After angiography, normal activities can be resumed from next day onwards.

Cost of angiography in India ranges from USD 300 onwards depending upon the doctor performing, the hospital chosen and the general health status of the patient, if angioplasty required further on.

There is less than 1% risk of complications like bleeding, allergic reaction to the dye, deterioration of renal, cardiac function or stroke.

Angiography is a safe procedure Occasionally people feel that angiography is a risky procedure and always to be followed by angioplasty, but this is not correct, in many cases, the arteries have just a minor blockage and angioplasty is not required. 

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