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Visualizing Vitality: Understanding the Angiography Test Visualizing Vitality: Understanding the Angiography Test

Visualizing Vitality: Understanding the Angiography Test

Artemis Hospital

April 15, 2024 |
Visualizing Vitality: Understanding the Angiography Test 9 Min Read | 109

Coronary angiography is a test that uses X-rays to check the heart's blood vessels, called the coronary arteries. It's usually advised to see if a blood vessel is narrowed or blocked. It is most commonly used to diagnose coronary artery disease.

We cannot check blood vessels with a normal X-ray, so in this procedure, a special dye is injected into the blood vessels of the area that is to be examined.

This test is part of a general group of tests and treatments called cardiac catheterization. It uses one or more thin, flexible tubes called catheters. These tubes are placed in the major blood vessels of the body and heart, which requires a small cut in the skin for placement.

During coronary angiography, treatments such as angioplasty and stenting can be done to open any blocked arteries.

In some cases, a CT machine is also used to check the blood vessels in the heart. This type doesn't need any placement of tubes in the body and is usually referred to as a coronary CT angiogram.

Uses of Angiography

An angiography test can help in detecting the conditions that affect blood vessels and blood flow through them. Some conditions are as follows: 

  • Coronary Heart Disease: In this condition, blood flow through the artery supplying the heart muscle is interrupted as it has become narrowed.
  • Aneurysm: A part of the blood vessel wall bulges outwards due to a weakness in the wall.
  • Atherosclerosis: blood vessels become clogged up with fatty substances, such as cholesterol; an angiogram can be used to assess the level of atherosclerosis in specific blood vessels.

Angiography can also be used to help plan for procedures like angioplasty, stenting, and even surgery.

Preparing for Angiography

Before proceeding with the procedure, you will be evaluated to see if you can undergo this test, which may involve various questions such as: 

  • Medical history, including allergies
  • The medication that you are taking 
  • Evaluation of your general health, including a physical examination and blood test
  • Discussion about the procedure, including the method, instructions before the test, and 
  • If you want to have a sedative, you'll be asked to not eat for a few hours before the test.
     

The Angiography Procedure

During the angiography, you will be instructed to wear a hospital gown and lie down on an X-ray table.

For the test:

Generally, you are awake, but if a general anesthetic is administered, such as in the case of young children, then you will be asleep under its influence.

  • A small cut is made on the skin over one artery (groin or wrist) after numbing that area with a local anesthetic to prevent pain.
  • A catheter is inserted and guided to the area that is being examined. It will feel like pushing and pulling, but no pain should be felt.
  • Through the catheter, a special dye is administered, and you may feel the need to pee after a few seconds of its administration.
  • A set of X-rays is taken as the dye( contrast agent) flows through your blood vessels.
  • In some cases, treatment such as inserting a balloon or small tube to open a narrowed artery can be done at the same time as this test, which is known as angioplasty. 
  • Once the test is done, the catheter is removed, and pressure is applied to the cut to stop any bleeding.

After Angiography

  • After the test, you will be taken to the recovery room, where you will be asked to lie still for some time to prevent bleeding from the cut. When you will be able to go home varies from person to person. Generally, you can go home on the same day, and in some cases, you may need to stay overnight in the hospital.
     

At-Home Recovery

  • Take complete rest for the rest of the day.
  • Have someone accompany you at least for 24 hours post-test in case you are not feeling well.
  • Intake food as soon as you are ready to eat and drink, and drink plenty of fluids to flush the dye faster.
  • You can go back to your daily activity the next day, but you may need to avoid lifting weights and strenuous exercises for a few days.
  • You may have some bruising and soreness for at least a few days.

Conclusion

Angiography is an effective tool for diagnosing and treating a wide range of vascular conditions. By presenting a complete view of your blood vessels, doctors can make better-informed treatment choices. If you have any concerns about your vascular health, speak with a healthcare professional. They can check your particular case and determine whether angiography is the best test for you. Early diagnosis and treatment can result in better outcomes, and angiography can be a key component of that approach.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is an angiography test for?

A: An angiography test is used to check your blood vessels and the blood flow through them. It can help you diagnose and investigate various problems affecting blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis, which increases your chances of having a stroke or heart attack.

Q: Is an angiography test painful?

A: In an angiography test, a catheter is inserted into the artery and guided toward the desired area to examine it. You may feel a slight push and pull when the catheter is guided, but you should not feel any pain for the same.

Q: Can angiography clear the blockage?

A: Blocked coronary arteries can be treated during an angiography test by a procedure known as angioplasty. In this method, a special catheter is inserted to remove the blockage. In some cases, another option for severely narrowed coronary arteries is bypass surgery.

Q: At what stage is angiography performed?

A: Coronary angiography may be performed if you have angina for the first time. Your angina is worsening, not going away, occurring more frequently, or occurring at rest (known as unstable angina). You have aortic stenosis or another valve issue.

 

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