Making the right diagnosis and choosing the treatment can be sometimes very complicated. Nowadays are doctors equipped with accurate imaging methods, which help them to decide upon the right diagnosis and further management of the patient. Angiography represents a method which can be possibly used as a diagnostic and a treatment tool too.
What is an angiography examination?
Angiography as an imaging method uses one of 3 imaging methods with or without using a contrast agent:
- X-Ray with the use of catheter
- Computed Tomography (CT scan)
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI scan)
In the most cases, the use of a contrast agent injection is necessary to produce accurate pictures of blood vessels. Catheter angiography is a minimally invasive technique, used to examine blood vessels in any area of the body. With the use of a catheter is possible to combine diagnostics and treatment into one procedure. Catheter angiography produces accurate pictures of the blood vessels and may avoid the surgery.
Your doctor may use the angiography examination to:
- identify abnormal structure of the blood vessels, e.g. aneurysms
- detect atherosclerotic plaques – in the carotid artery on the neck or heart coronary arteries
- find a small aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation inside the brain
- search for an abnormalities of the kidney arteries to prepare for a kidney transplant or stent placement
- guide interventional radiologists and surgeons within minimally invasive procedures
- detect traumatic injury of the arteries
- evaluate arteries nourishing a tumor prior to surgery or other procedures
- detect aortic dissection
- evaluate severity of the effects of coronary artery disease prior to coronary bypass operation or stenting
- examine pulmonary arteries in the lungs to detect pulmonary embolism or pulmonary arteriovenous malformations
- look for congenital abnormalities in blood vessels, especially in children
Excellent spatial resolution of coronary angiography https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010865015001009#fig0005
How should you be prepared for the examination?
You should definitely inform your doctor and radiologist if you take any medications, if you have any allergies, and if any reaction after previous examinations with the contrast agent occured.
We recommend you to be prepared to change you clothes as long as you may wear a gown during the exam. Prior the examination, you may be asked to remove jewelry and any metal objects.
Also if you may be pregnant or you are breastfeeding do not forget to inform your doctor and radiologist. Your doctor my advice you how to proceed with pumping breast milk ahead for use until the contrast material has cleared from your body, usually about 24 hours after the examination.
In case you are going to be sedated during the procedure, you may be instructed not to eat or drink for 4-8 hours prior the examination. Afterwards, you should not drive for 24 hours and if you are not admitted to the hospital, you should arrange someone to drive you home.