Angiography

What is angiography?

Angiography is a medical imaging technique used to check for clogged blood vessels and veins. In general, it consists of the insertion of a thin tube into a vein or vessel, the injection of a dye into the vein or vessel and an X-ray to show the presence of clogs or other signs of illness.

We perform several types of angiograms at Vidant Health:

Coronary Angiography

One of the most common uses of angiography, coronary angiograms visualize the blood in the coronary arteries. Angiography is a special type of X-ray that allows your coronary arteries to be viewed and recorded on film. Your doctor can see if the blood vessels to your heart are clogged.

Before the procedure, tell your doctor what medicines you take and any allergies you may have. You also should not drink or eat anything after midnight, the night before the procedure.

During the procedure, a catheter (a long, thin tube) is placed inside an artery in your groin or arm and guided into your heart. Then a dye is injected into the catheter and enters your blood vessels or heart chambers. Finally, X-rays are taken to show clear photos of the inside of your heart and coronary arteries.

After the procedure, your doctor or nurse will inform you how long you will need to lie down and keep the insertion site still. If the insertion site was in your groin, you may need to lie down for several hours. A nurse will check your blood pressure. You may be asked to drink fluids to flush out the contrast liquid. Make sure you have someone to drive you home from the hospital. Once you are home, it is normal to find a small bruise or lump at the insertion site. This common side effect should disappear within a few weeks.

There are a few symptoms to look out for after a coronary angiogram. Call your health care provider if you experience any:

  • Angina (chest pain)
  • Pain, swelling, redness, bleeding or drainage around the insertion site
  • Severe pain, coldness or a bluish color in the leg or arm that held the catheter
  • Blood in your urine, black or tarry stools, or any other kind of bleeding
  • A fever higher than 101°F (38.3°C)

Hepatic Angiography

Hepatic angiography uses X-rays to view the vessels that send blood to your liver. The test uses a catheter, which is put into a blood vessel through a small cut. Dye is then injected into the catheter. This procedure is usually done by an interventional radiologist.

If you’re considering hepatic angiography, you should inform your health care provider if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or allergic to X-ray dye or other medications. Also, tell your provider of any medications, prescription or over-the-counter, that you may be taking.

Before the procedure, follow your clinician’s instructions to avoid eating food beforehand. You may be asked to avoid eating after midnight. Also, arrange for a ride home from the hospital.

During the procedure, you may be given medicine to help you relax, feel sleepy or feel numb around the insertion site. A wire is inserted into your skin and guided into a large artery in your thigh (femoral artery). X-ray dye will be inserted into the catheter flow to your liver. This will allow the images to appear clearly. You will need to stay very still and hold your breath at times. When the test is finished, the catheter will be removed and pressure will be put on your insertion site for 10-15 minutes to prevent bleeding.

After your procedure, you will be asked to lie flat with your leg stretched out for six hours to prevent bleeding at the insertion site. You will either go home that day or stay overnight in the hospital. After the angiogram, be sure to drink plenty of fluid to help flush the X-ray dye from your body.

Fluorescein Angiography

Fluorescein angiography is an eye test. It gives clinicians a clear view of:

  • The blood vessels in your eye
  • The layer of tissue at the back of your eye (the retina)
  • The center of your retina (the macula)
  • The optic nerve

This test can diagnose diseases found in these areas. It can also diagnose other conditions that affect these areas. To do this test, a dye called fluorescein is injected into your arm. The dye goes travels through the bloodstream and into the blood vessels in your eyes. A special camera is then used to take images (or angiograms) of your eyes.

You should inform your health care provider prior to the procedure if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or allergic to X-ray dye or other medications. Also, make sure to tell your provider of any medications, prescription or over-the-counter, that you may be taking.

During your test, you will be given eye drops to enlarge (dilate) your pupils.You place your chin on the chin rest and look into a special camera. Then images are taken of your eyes, one eye at a time. Fluorescein dye is then injected into your arm. The lights in the room are turned off. More pictures of your eyes are taken over 15 to 30 minutes. The camera shines a bright light into your eyes. Try to keep your head still and your eyes open. When enough images have been taken, the test is over.

After your test, pupil dilation will make your vision blurry for up to four to 12 hours. Your eye will be more sensitive to light for up to 12 hours. It’s a good idea to wear sunglasses during this time and avoid driving if your vision is very blurry. You may also find it uncomfortable to read. Your skin may look yellow for a few hours. This is from the dye. Your urine will be bright yellow or orange for 24 to 48 hours after the test.

All procedures have some risks. Possible risks of fluorescein angiography include:

  • Upset stomach (nausea) and vomiting
  • Leaking dye around the injection site that causes pain and swelling
  • Metallic taste in your mouth
  • Infection at injection site
  • Allergic reaction to the dye
  • Dry mouth or too much saliva
  • Faster heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Lower back pain

Peripheral Angiography

Peripheral angiography, an outpatient procedure, makes a “map” of the vessels (arteries) in your lower body, legs and arms. This map can show where blood flow may be blocked.

Before the procedure, follow any instructions given to you about not eating food beforehand. You may be asked to not eat after midnight. Also, arrange for a ride home from the hospital.

During the procedure, a catheter, or a long, thin tube, is placed inside an artery in your groin or arm and guided into your heart. Then a contrast dye is injected into the catheter and enters into your blood vessels. Finally, X-rays are taken to show clear images of your blood vessels.

After the procedure, you’ll be taken to a recovery area. A doctor or nurse will apply pressure to the site for about 10 minutes. Your doctor or nurse will tell you how long to lie down and keep the insertion site still. Your healthcare provider will discuss the results with you soon after the procedure.

On the day you get home, don’t drive, don’t exercise, avoid walking and taking stairs, and avoid bending and lifting. Your health care provider may give you other care instructions.

Call your health care provider right away if:

  • You notice a lump or bleeding at the insertion site
  • You feel pain at the insertion site
  • You become lightheaded or dizzy
  • You have leg pain or numbness