Angiography: Everything you need to know
By Dr Sumit Kapadia, Vascular Surgeon
In the realm of medical diagnostics, few procedures have been as instrumental in detecting blood vessel abnormalities as angiography. It has become an essential tool for vascular surgeons like Dr Sumit Kapadia, helping in the early diagnosis and subsequent treatment of numerous vascular conditions.
Angiography is an invaluable diagnostic tool across several medical specialities. An interventional cardiologist typically conducts angiograms of the heart. For peripheral arteries – those outside the heart – the procedure often falls under the expertise of vascular and endovascular surgeons like Dr. Sumit Kapadia. When it comes to the brain, interventional neurologists are the specialists performing cerebral angiograms. Whichever the specialist, the essence of an angiogram remains consistent: to study images and pinpoint problematic areas in the blood vessels.
But what does this procedure entail? Why is it done? How much might it cost? Let’s delve deep into the subject.
What Is An Angiogram?
An angiogram, often referred to in common parlance as angiography, is a diagnostic procedure that utilizes sophisticated X-ray imaging to inspect blood vessels for blockages, whether they’re arteries or veins. Through this test, healthcare professionals can closely observe blood circulation at specific points within the body, helping them identify the source of an arterial or venous issue.
Why Angiogram Is Done?
The need for an angiogram arises when there are indications of damaged, blocked, or abnormal blood vessels. This test facilitates healthcare providers in ascertaining the root cause of the vascular problem and understanding the extent of damage to the vessels.
Some common reasons why an angiogram is done include diagnosing or planning treatment for:
- Coronary artery disease.
- Peripheral artery disease.
- Blood clots.
- Bleeding vessels
- AV malformation
How is Angiogram Done?
The angiography process is a meticulous one. It involves injecting a contrast material or dye, which can be seen with an X-ray machine. The resultant images depict blood flow and any potential blockages within the vessels.
To elaborate, during this procedure:
- The patient’s skin area, usually in the groin, is numbed. ( Radial artery at wrist is another common site for access)
- A blood vessel is accessed using a needle.
- A wire is threaded through this needle.
- A catheter, a slender tube, is introduced over this wire, guiding it to the precise blood vessel segment under inspection.
- Contrast material is injected through the catheter.
- X-ray images are then taken to monitor the dye’s movement, revealing any obstructions.
- If blockages are detected, the physician may immediately opt for treatments like angioplasty or even stent placement.
Is Angiography Painful?
A common concern among many is the level of discomfort or pain associated with the angiogram. Fortunately, while the procedure involves needle insertion for the anaesthetic, most patients report minimal discomfort thereafter. The administration of anaesthetic ensures the rest of the process is as painless as possible. Some patients might experience a warm sensation or a feeling akin to needing to urinate when the contrast dye is introduced, but this sensation is transient.
Procedure for angiography
Preparation is paramount for a successful angiogram:
- Patients are often advised against eating post-midnight, the evening before the test. ( 6 hours of fasting )
- Medication restrictions, especially blood thinners, might be imposed.
- On the day of the test, patients are recommended to wear comfortable attire, avoid jewellery, and bring a list of their medications and allergies.
- Once at the medical facility, patients will change into a hospital gown and settle on a high-end state-of-the-art Cath lab.
- Hair removal by shaving would be done in the groin or wrist.
- Post-procedure, rest is crucial, especially if the catheter was introduced through the leg. This minimizes the risk of bleeding at the incision site.
- A tight bandage with a sandbag would be placed at the puncture site for 6 to 8 hours.
Also Read: What is a Vascular & Endovascular Surgeon?
Cost of diagnostic angiography
The cost of diagnostic angiography can vary based on numerous factors, including the facility’s location, the doctor’s experience, and the specificities of the procedure. While the angiography treatment cost is a significant aspect for many, it’s paramount to consult directly with the healthcare provider or hospital to get an accurate estimate. In India, cost of Angiography ranges between INR 6000 to INR 20000.
A CT angiography is done in a CT scan centre In this non-invasive diagnostic method, intravenous contrast is administered in arm which then flows into circulation and then the blood vessles in the area of interest are evaluated by a rapid CT scanner machine.
A 16 slice or 32 slice CT scan is normally utilized for this purpose.
Cost of diagnostic angiography
Angiography, under the expert guidance of vascular surgeons like Dr Sumit Kapadia, has proven to be an indispensable diagnostic tool. By understanding what is an angiogram and the angiography process, patients can approach the procedure with confidence and clarity. Remember, knowledge is empowerment, especially when it comes to one’s health. So, if you or a loved one are considering this diagnostic test, trust in the expertise of professionals and the advancements in medical science to guide you through.