The technique for an angiogram was developed in 1927 by a Portuguese physician named Egas Moniz, who specialized in neurology. He developed a cerebral version of angiography and used it to diagnose tumors, artery disease, and a condition called arteriovenous malformation, which involves an abnormal connection between arteries and veins, causing your body’s capillary system to remain unused
Have you ever wondered about a way to take photos of the way your blood flows through your arteries and veins? An angiogram is a digital imaging technique used by physicians to look at the arteries and veins almost anywhere in your body; usually, they are used to look at the veins and arteries in your head, arms, legs, chest, back, or belly. An angiogram is the result of a digital imaging technique called angiography, or arteriography. The word angiography stems from a combination of the Greek “angeion” (vessel) and “graphein” (to write or record).
An angiogram shows you the inside of your blood vessels (arteries, veins) and organs. Even the inside of your heart chambers can be viewed. The different types of angiograms are:
- Aortogram: An angiogram of the main artery of your body that supplies oxygenated blood to your circulatory system. Your aorta passes over your heart from the left side, running down in front of your backbone.
- Coronary: An angiogram of all the arteries near your heart.
- Carotid: An angiogram of the arteries in your head and neck.
- Cerebral Angiogram: An angiogram of the arteries in your brain.
- Peripheral Angiogram: An angiogram of the arteries in your legs or arms.
- Pulmonary Angiogram: An angiogram of the arteries in your lungs.
During an angiogram, a thin catheter is placed in one of two blood vessels: either your femoral artery, which is in your groin or your brachial artery just above your elbow. The catheter is guided to whichever area of your body is being studied. An iodine contrast dye is injected into the vessel to make it show up clearly on an X-ray. The photos can be stored digitally, or printed into regular X-ray films.
Angiograms can give your doctor access to a wide range of information about your body. Depending on the location and purpose of your angiogram, your doctor will be able to recognize the following:
- Aneurysm: An abnormal bulge in one of your blood vessels.
- Atherosclerosis: If you have atherosclerosis, your doctor can perform an angiogram to check on how severely it has affected your coronary arteries.
- Changes in Blood Vessels: A narrowing or blockage affecting proper blood flow. These changes can occur around injured or damaged organs.
- Coronary Artery Disease: Angiograms can show if you have it and how bad it is.
- Renal Artery Information: Before a kidney transplant, your physician may perform an angiogram to find out the condition, number, and location of your renal arteries.
- Tumor Blood Supply: Angiograms can show the pattern of blood flow to a tumor. This helps show how the tumor is spreading and guide treatment.
- Ulcers: Angiograms are useful in locating sources of internal bleeding such as ulcers.
- Peripheral Arterial Surgery Preparation: Looking at the details of the diseased blood vessels of the legs before surgery helps your doctor figure out how best to use surgery to solve your leg pain.
Take a pregnancy test to make sure you know whether you are pregnant or not. If you are breastfeeding, use formula and throw away your breastmilk for one or two days after your angiogram until the dye passes from your body (about 24 hours). Do not eat or drink for 4 to 8 hours before your angiogram. Taking aspirin or blood thinners is not recommended.
Before you can get an angiogram, your doctor will need to know the following information, and will likely ask you the following types of questions:
- Are you or might you be pregnant?
- Are you breastfeeding?
- Are you allergic to iodine dye?
- Have you ever had a serious allergic reaction to anything, like bee stings or shellfish?
- Do you have asthma?
- Are you allergic to any medicines?
- Have you ever had any bleeding problems?
- Are you taking any blood-thinning medications?
- Do you have a history of kidney problems or diabetes?
You will not need much time to recover after an angiogram, if you do need to stay overnight in the hospital, you will most likely be able to go home the very next day. Talk with your doctor about the type of angiograms you might need.
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