Timely and considerate care of the arterial and venous systems.
When there is suspicion of disease in the arteries, one of the procedures a vascular surgeon might request is an angiogram.
According to the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS), information request about angiograms is the number one topic of search for visitors to the SVS website. Here is what the SVS says about the procedure:
Angiograms are a common procedure and are used to diagnose many conditions. Vascular surgeons use them to find out if you have a blockage in one of your arteries.
In fact, says vascular surgeon Dr. Luke K. Marone, “an angiogram is considered the gold standard for evaluating blockages in the arterial system.”
Your vascular system can be considered a kind of highway, and an angiogram takes advantage of that artery route to send tiny equipment to get a good look at a suspicious area.
Here’s what the angiogram process may look like:
• You likely will be sedated during the procedure, which can last anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours.
• A needle will be inserted into an artery in your groin. From this “entrance ramp,” areas all over the body can be examined and even treated.
• Very thin tubes known as catheters are inserted into the artery and threaded through the arterial system to the area under investigation.
• An iodine dye, also called a contrast agent, is injected into the area.
• With an X-ray, the surgeon watches how the blood is flowing and identifies the site of any blockage.
Depending on your symptoms and severity of any blockage, this may be the end of your procedure or the beginning of the next one. If the surgeon thinks it is necessary, she may then do an angioplasty, a process that opens up the blocked area and returns good blood flow to that part of the body.
Here is what they say about the angioplasty:
• Guided by X-ray, your vascular surgeon navigates through the blockage with a wire and introduces a special device equipped with an inflatable balloon.
• After positioning the balloon device across the blocked portion of the artery, the surgeon inflates the balloon to expand the artery and compress the blockage.
• The balloon is then deflated and removed while keeping the wire in place across the area that has been treated.
• Contrast dye is injected to assess the result. Treatment is considered a success if blood flow is improved and less than 30 percent of the blockage remains.
• If the vessel is still considerably narrowed or blood flow remains insufficient, placing a stent may be the next step.
Stents are used to prop open an artery at the site of a narrowing.
For more information, visit the SVS website about Angiograms and angioplasty – What you need to know
Note: This blog post is intended for information only. It is not meant to replace a professional medical opinion. If you are suspecting any medical problems, please seek professional medical attention. If you are having an emergency, please call 911.