The heart is one of the most common areas that can be checked by angiography.
An angiography is a type of x-ray that is used to examine the blood vessels. Due to the blood vessels not being visible on an ordinary x-ray, the area being examined is injected with contrast fluid that highlights the blood vessels.
The heart is the most common area to be checked using angiography (coronary angiography), but there are other areas in the body that are checked using this imaging technique:
- brain (cerebral angiography)
- lungs (pulmonary angiography)
- kidneys (renal angiography)
- arms or legs (extremity angiography)
Although they are mainly carried out during x-rays, angiograms can also be carried out using MRI and CT. They help to diagnose conditions that affect the blood flow and vessels. This can include:
- coronary heart disease
They are also helpful to plan surgeries that involve the blood vessels.
Angiographies can take up to 2 hours, and are carried out in hospital. In most cases, local anaesthetic is used, however if a child is having the procedure, general anaesthetic is used. The procedure is carried out be a radiologist who inserts and guides a catheter into a small cut into one of your arteries (usually in the groin or leg).
They are generally safe and painless, and the risk of a serious complication occurring is low. Of course, due to the catheter insertion, there may be minor bruising. Some patients may on occasion have an allergic reaction to the contrast fluid, but this is easily treated with medication, and is not a serious risk to worry about.