Coronary and Peripheral Angiography
Derived from the Greek words for “vessel” and “to write or make a picture,” angiography is a medical imaging procedure. An angiogram is an x-ray image of arteries and veins which is created using a contrast “dye” to check for such conditions as blood vessel narrowing or enlargement, blockages and possible leakages. The exam is performed using a catheter, a long flexible tube, that is gently guided through the blood vessels with the aid of x-ray images on a monitor, or can be non-invasive using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT scan). Angiograms are commonly used for assessing blood vessel health in and around the heart, brain, kidneys and in the legs.
Cardiologists perform coronary angiograms to look for blockages or other abnormalities in blood vessels in the heart. This procedure involves cardiac catheterization - the use of a catheter which is usually placed in the artery through a puncture site in the groin or arm, and then gently guided into one of the two major coronary arteries. The cardiologist then injects an iodine-based contrast through the catheter and into the artery, which will be visible when x-rays are taken. The contrast highlights blood movement through the artery, and narrowing caused by blockages can be clearly discerned.
Peripheral angiograms use the same procedure with x-rays, dye and a catheter, but are instead performed to examine the vessels to the arms, legs, kidneys, or abdomen. In the legs, blockages causing interrupted blood flow can result in cramps during walking and reduce the healing ability of foot injuries or wounds such as sores or ulcers. Decreased blood flow can also cause legs to become pale or turn slightly blue, or result in colder limbs and decreased nail and hair growth.
Patients undergoing an angiogram should not eat or drink anything for at least 12 hours before the procedure, but (in most cases) should continue taking their medication as normal; a patient should discuss this with his or her physician. The physician should be informed if the patient has had an allergic reaction to anything containing iodine, including seafood (as the contrast dye used in these procedures contains iodine), or if the patient is taking the medications warfarin or metformin.
At the site where the catheter enters the body, the skin is numbed with a local
anesthetic and the patient may feel a warm or hot flushing sensation where the
contrast dye is injected. Most angiogram procedures are about an hour in length
and are outpatient procedures.
Possible risks can include allergic reaction to the dye resulting in skin swelling, hives or trouble breathing; possible blood clot; bleeding from the incision from the catheter; artery damage; and kidney problems, if the patient already suffers from kidney disease.
Certain MDCA physicians specialize in coronary or peripheral angiography, and offer expertise with the procedure and in the subsequent diagnosis, with the patient's welfare always the primary goal.
MDCA cardiologists perform these procedures in a full catheterization laboratory using state-of-the-art heart catheter equipment. They are experienced in assessing the full spectrum of heart conditions, and use cardiac catheterization as an important tool to assess a patient's overall heart health and to direct his or her treatment. To make an appointment with an MDCA cardiologist experienced with coronary and peripheral angiography, please call 713-441-1100 (Pearland patients, please call 713-441-9909).