ERAD Radiology

Interventional Radiology Procedure: Angiography

Home | Articles | Medical Imaging | Interventional Radiology Procedure: Angiography

Interventional radiology (IR) is a medical speciality that uses minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and treat various conditions. It uses imaging guidance such as MRIs, CT Scans, X-rays, Fluoroscopy, and Ultrasounds.

One of the common procedures performed within interventional radiology is angiography.

In this article, we will cover:

What is angiography?

Angiography is a procedure that uses a dye-like contrast material and X-ray imaging to create a real-time image of the blood vessels and blood flow within your body. 

It’s used to assess your blood vessels and diagnose medical problems, such as blockages, narrowing of the vessels, aneurysms, and other vascular abnormalities. 

Angiography can be performed on the brain, heart, kidneys, limbs, and liver, to name a few.

Is an angiography procedure safe?

The short answer is yes. An angiography is less invasive, expensive, and risky than traditional surgeries. It’s also more successful in diagnosing and treating medical conditions.

That said, as with any medical procedure, there are potential risks and complications, including bleeding, infection, an allergic reaction to the contrast dye, and damage to your blood vessels. It’s vital that you discuss the risks and possible side effects with your doctor before agreeing to the procedure.

What is the difference between an angiography and an angiogram?

Angiography is the process of using medical imaging technology and contrast dye to visualise the blood vessels. 

Angiograms are the x-ray images taken during the angiography procedure. They provide detailed information about the blood vessels’ structure, condition, and blood flow. 

What is the difference between a standard CT scan and a CT angiogram?

A standard CT scan is used to create detailed cross-sectional images of various body parts, such as the brain, abdomen, chest, pelvis, and bones. It can diagnose various medical conditions, including fractures, tumours, infections, and internal injuries.

A CT angiogram is a specialised form of imaging primarily used to evaluate blood flow via a canula on the arm, and detect blockages, aneurysms, and other vascular abnormalities. Doctors use it to assess cardiovascular conditions, such as coronary artery disease, pulmonary embolism, or peripheral artery disease.

What are the different types of angiography procedures?

There are several types of angiography procedures, each tailored to visualise specific areas of your body. We’re going to focus on the four most common types of angiography procedures:

1. Coronary Angiography

This procedure examines the coronary arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle. A coronary angiography is vital for diagnosing coronary artery disease, blockages and planning interventions like angioplasty and stent placement.

Heart angiography, also known as cardiac catheterisation, is crucial for diagnosing and managing coronary artery disease, a leading cause of heart-related health issues such as heart attacks. It helps cardiologists assess the extent and severity of blockages and determine the most appropriate course of treatment, whether through lifestyle changes, medications, or interventional procedures.

2. Cerebral or Intestinal Angiography

Also known as cerebral arteriography or brain angiography, this procedure visualises blood vessels in the brain. It’s often employed to diagnose conditions like aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), and other vascular abnormalities in the head.

3. Pulmonary Angiography

Pulmonary angiography is used to visualise the blood vessels in the lungs, specifically the pulmonary arteries. Interventional radiologists use it to assess and diagnose lung and vascular conditions, including pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension, and other pulmonary vascular abnormalities.

4. Renal Angiography

This imaging procedure assesses and diagnoses various renal (kidney) conditions, particularly those related to blood flow within the kidneys. Renal angiography can help identify blockages, narrowing (stenosis), aneurysms, or other abnormalities in the renal arteries and veins. It is often used to evaluate conditions such as renal artery stenosis, leading to high blood pressure (hypertension) and kidney dysfunction

How to prepare for the procedure

Before the procedure

Your doctor will advise that you fast for a couple of hours. This is to reduce the risk of complications that could occur during your angiography.

You may also be given medication to help relax or sedate you during the procedure.
It’s vital that you advise your doctor and the radiologist of the following:

  • Any food allergies you have.
  • If you’ve had any allergic reactions to anaesthetic or x-ray contrast dyes in the past.
  • Any medications you are taking.
  • If you have a history of asthma, heart, or kidney problems.
  • If you think you may be pregnant.

Once you arrive at the hospital, you will be directed to change out of your clothing and into a hospital gown. You’ll need to remove your jewellery and glasses.

Get a family member or friend to come with you to look after your wallet or handbag and drive you home after the procedure. Alternatively, you should be able to bring it with you to the x-ray room.

During the procedure

A nursing sister will bring you to the x-ray room and direct you to lie on a table.

  1. Once you are comfortable, a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) will be inserted into an artery through a small incision in the skin. The radiologist will likely use an artery in your groin area. The catheter is carefully guided through the blood vessels to reach the area of interest.
  2. Once the catheter is in position, the radiologist will inject the contrast dye through the catheter. This allows us to see the blood vessels and potential abnormalities more distinctly.
  3. As the contrast dye moves through your blood vessels, the radiologist will begin taking X-ray images.
  4. Depending on the findings, the interventional radiologist may perform additional interventions during the same procedure. For example, they might use an angioplasty (balloon inflation to widen narrowed vessels) or stent placement (inserting a mesh-like device to keep vessels open) to treat any identified blockages or stenoses.

After the procedure

Once the procedure is complete, the catheter is removed, and pressure is applied to the insertion site to prevent bleeding.

You will be monitored for a short time to ensure there are no complications. Once the interventional radiologist is satisfied with your condition, you will be allowed to change and be discharged from the hospital.

Your results should be available in 48 hours. You can contact your referring doctor to get the results.

How long does it take to recover from an angiography procedure?

Recovery times really depend on you and the type of procedure you had. You can expect to feel some discomfort or minor side effects for a few days following the process.

Most people can return home the same day as the angiography, especially if there are no complications. That said, arrange for someone to drive you home, as you may be a little dizzy from the sedative used during the procedure.

You can return to normal activities within a day or two after angiography. However, following your healthcare provider’s recommendations regarding physical activity and lifting restrictions is essential. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any adverse reactions after the procedure.

Book a consultation

Now that you know what to expect, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re worried about your angiography procedure, speak to your doctor or the attending radiologist. We are here to answer your questions and set your mind at ease.

Book your appointment at your closest ERAD Radiology facility here.

Share The News