An angiogram is a type of x-ray test that is done to see the blood flow in an artery or vein. It is normally used to examine the blood vessels in the chest, head, back, arms, legs and abdomen.
- A coronary angiogram looks at the arteries near the heart.
- A pulmonary angiogram at those near the lungs.
- A cerebral angiogram is used for the blood vessels near the brain.
- Carotid angiogram examines the blood vessels in the head and neck.
- An aortogram examines the aorta.
- A peripheral angiogram looks at the vessels in the arms and legs.
How it is done
A thin tube known as a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in the groin or just above the elbow and guided to the area to be examined. An iodine dye is injected into the blood vessel to provide contrast and make the x-ray image more clear. The images are studied by a cardiologist to determine what, if any, problems exist and to decide on the course of treatment.
Two variations of the normal angiogram are the computed tomography angiogram (CTA) and the magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA). These tests are less invasive than the normal angiogram. Some of these tests, depending on the specific nature, require the use of a contrast dye. A CTA also involves radiation exposure. Your cardiologist will decide on which option is best for you.
Why it is done
The common reasons are to:
- Find problems that affect the flow in the blood vessels. These include tears in the vessels, weaknesses in the vessel walls and narrowing that restricts the flow.
- Find changes in the blood vessels in organs that may be damaged or injured and which contribute to the problem.
- Reveal the pattern of blood flow to a tumor. This will help in determining the way the tumor is spreading and will assist in deciding on the course of treatment.
- Understand the condition of diseased blood vessels in the leg which can result in severe pain when walking.
- Examine the nature of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries.Locate the source of internal bleeding as occurs when an ulcer is present.
- Show the location, condition and number of renal arteries before a kidney transplant is performed.