What is an angiogram?

An angiogram uses X-rays to evaluate the interior of your body’s blood vessels for blockage or diseased areas. There are three types of angiograms: 

  • Catheter angiogram 
  • CT (computed tomography angiogram) 
  • MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) 

CT and MR angiograms offer ways to find plaque and fatty deposits without an invasive catheterization procedure. The catheter angiogram, although invasive, produces the clearest images. 

The traditional angiogram procedure is a catheter angiography. The contrast dye flows through your body’s vessels, effectively blocking the X-rays. The resulting images show the blood flow and allow for the discovery of blocked, malformed or damaged blood vessels. 

An angiogram is used to diagnose a number of vascular conditions, including: 

During an angiogram, your physician may also treat your condition. He or she may decrease the amount of plaque, insert a stent or dissolve a clot. The angiogram provides your physician with vital information to diagnose and plan future treatments. 

Why choose Ohio State for an angiogram?

Vascular surgeons at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are angiography experts. At Ohio State’s Ross Heart Hospital, an entire wing of the fifth floor is devoted to catheter-based procedures, while the acute coronary floor supports the cardiac catheterization labs. 

Our vascular surgeons are expert not only in performing the catheterizations, but also in treating blocked vessels that are identified with a variety of minimally invasive techniques. Often, this can be done at the same time as the diagnostic catheterization. 

What to expect during an angiogram

Preparing for your procedure

Prior to an angiogram, you will discuss with your physician your medical history, your medications and any questions you have. Tests that your physician may schedule before the angiogram depend on your condition and may include: 

  • Blood tests to establish your blood’s clotting ability 
  • Tests to determine your kidney function 

Do not eat or drink anything for six hours before your angiogram. Your physician will tell you if you should avoid aspirin or other medications before your test. Please bring all of your medications, including over-the-counter medications, herbal and dietary supplements to the test with you. 

Make sure you tell your doctor if you are pregnant, think you could be pregnant or are breastfeeding. 

During your procedure 

As the test begins, you will receive a local anesthetic. Your physician inserts the catheter and guides the wire to the targeted area. Then the contrast dye is released; you may feel flushed and warm from the dye. X-rays are taken to reveal your artery or vein structure. For clear X-rays, you will be asked to stay still and briefly hold your breath. 

After your procedure 

Your physician will monitor you for up to six hours. For the rest of the day, you will want to curb strenuous physical activities, like climbing stairs or walking. You should arrange to be driven home after your test. For the next few days, make sure you continue to drink extra fluids. The dye will be naturally discharged from your body.

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