Problems with the circulation of blood through the body can lead to or reveal more than 1,500 different kinds of medical conditions and diseases. This wide range of diseases and conditions underlies the importance of arteriography as a method of testing the arteries and blood flow.
Through arteriography, physicians can determine how blood is flowing through the body and in what condition a person’s arteries are. Arteriography allows physicians to diagnose a number of conditions and malfunctions that may occur in the human body.
The process of arteriography involves the injection of a contrast dye into a particular region of the body. Physicians usually inject the dye into a suspected part of the body’s circulatory system and then take a number of high speed X-ray pictures in order to learn if any problems are present. There are several different kinds of arteriographic tests that may be performed in hospitals today depending on the specific regions of the body afflicted.
Types of Ateriography
- Coronary angiography, for example, targets the heart
- Renal arteriography targets the kidneys
- Pulmonary angiography examines the lungs
- Cerebral arteriography examines the brains
- Aortic arteriography examines the primary artery of the body, the aorta
- Fluorescein angiography targets the retina of the eye
A number of conditions may be diagnosed partially or directly from the results obtained through an arteriography, including strokes, cancer, blood clots and brain tumors, aneurysms, heart attacks or blocked arteries, retinitis pigmentosa, or macular degeneration, or the hardening of the arteries known as atherosclerosis.
How an Arteriography is Performed
In most situations, physicians will perform an arteriography in a clinic or hospital environment. However, the procedure is usually an outpatient one and it is common to only use an anesthetic in the affected area. There are four primary steps to performing an arteriography.
First, the arm or the groin is chosen as a site for creating a puncture point in a large artery. The physicians then insert a medical catheter and push it through the body until it reaches the area affected by blood flow issues. The catheter is then used to inject a contrast dye into the afflicted area, and then the X-ray technician takes a set of X-ray images at high speed so the flow of blood and the arterial conditions in the area can be examined.
In most cases, the arteriography itself can usually be performed in about an hour. However, patients should take into account the time necessary for both preparation and recovery.
While arteriography is typically regarded as a low risk procedure, there are some risks that should be kept in mind by patients. The primary risk involves trauma to the artery, while some people have allergic reactions to the contrast dye. Hemorrhage or low blood pressure can also result, while in rare cases, heart attacks, strokes and deaths may occur as severe complications.