Angiography Services at Palomar Health

What is Angiography?

Angiography is a type of X-ray that is commonly done to image blood vessels in various parts of the body including the heart, brain and kidneys. After passing a catheter into an artery leading to the body of interest, a contrast material is injected to highlight the vessels when X-rays are taken. Angiography is widely used in patients who may undergo surgery, angioplasty or stent placement.

Common uses of this procedure.

Angiography is used for many types of examinations and procedures. It is utilized most often to detect narrowing or blockage of a blood vessels, identify abnormally dilated vessels and determine internal bleeding. Additionally, it is able to identify atherosclerotic disease, aneurysms, or show severity of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries.

How does it work?

Fluoroscopy (used in Angiography) is a live form of X-ray. Fluoroscopy involves exposing the part of the body under examination to a small dose of radiation that produces an image. This image is projected onto a television monitor or screen. When x-rays penetrate the body, they are absorbed in varying amounts by different parts of your anatomy. Bones will absorb more radiation than soft tissue so they will appear white or light gray on the image. Organs such as the liver or lungs will appear darker because they absorbs less radiation. Arteries and vessels are similar in density, so a contrast material may be used to produce clearer images.

What should I expect?

All arterial studies of the vessels will include gaining access by a puncture in the femoral artery, which is located in the groin. This area will be cleaned very thoroughly, shaved and then sterilized with a sterile solution. To begin the procedure, the radiologist will administer a local anesthetic. Once access into the artery is provided the radiologist will begin to pass a wire catheter to the selected area. You may feel some tugging and pressure, but nothing more.

Finally, the radiologist will inject contrast material while imaging the area of interest under fluoroscopy. The contrast media will give you a hot, flush sensation as well as some burning. It quickly disappears after the initial injection. You will be asked to hold very still and not move which is imperative to obtaining diagnostic quality images.

Patient Preparation

Please to do not eat or drink (water only) for 6-12 hours before your scheduled exam time. You must notify the Radiology staff of any allergies so that medications can be properly administered if necessary. Lab work is drawn prior to the procedure to check certain bodily functions. You will be contacted at home by the radiology nurse prior to your exam with very specific day-of-exam instructions. Additionally, the specific procedure will be explained to you and your family members by the radiologist performing the test.

Exam Results

Your exam will be read and a report will be phoned, faxed or mailed to your physician promptly. He/she will share the results with you.