An arteriogram is an X-ray of the blood vessels called arteries. It is performed to evaluate various vascular conditions, such as an aneurysm (a bulging, weakened area in the wall of a blood vessel), stenosis (narrowing of a blood vessel), or blockages. Other names for this procedure are angiogram and arteriography.
Fluoroscopy is often used during an arteriogram. Fluoroscopy is the study of moving body structures--similar to an X-ray “movie.” A continuous X-ray beam is passed through the body part being examined, and is transmitted to a TV-like monitor so that the body part and its motion can be seen in detail.
During an arteriogram, a dye is injected into an artery making the arteries visible on X-ray. Many arteries can be examined by an arteriogram, including the arterial systems of the legs, kidneys, brain, and heart.
The development and improvement of diagnostic procedures such as computed tomography (CT scan), ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have greatly expanded the diagnostic capabilities of the radiology department. An arteriogram may be performed in conjunction with another type of diagnostic procedure such as CT, MRI, or ultrasound, which provides greater detail to the physician.
An arteriogram may be performed to detect abnormalities of the blood vessels. Such abnormalities may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Other conditions that may be detected by an arteriogram include tumors, hemorrhage, inflammation, and the invasion of a tumor into the blood vessels. Arteriography may be used to deliver medications directly into tissue or an organ for treatment, such as clotting medication to the site of hemorrhage or cancer medication into a tumor.
An arteriogram may be recommended after a previous procedure, such as a CT scan, indicates the need for further information. Treatments may also be done during an arteriogram, such as dissolving a clot or placing a stent in a blood vessel.
In order to obtain an X-ray image of a blood vessel, an intravenous (IV) access is necessary so that a contrast dye can be injected into the body's circulatory system. The contrast dye causes the blood vessels to appear opaque on the X-ray image. This allows the doctor to better visualize the structure of the vessel(s) under examination. When the dye is injected into specific blood vessels in order to examine a particular area of circulation more closely, the procedure is referred to as superselective angiography.
Generally, an arteriogram is performed under local anesthesia (numbing the site where the catheter is to be inserted), often accompanied by light sedation. However, the type of procedure to be performed and the part of the body involved may require general anesthesia (the person will be asleep during the procedure). Certain patients, such as infants and young children, or patients who are confused or extremely anxious, may also require general anesthesia.
The specific procedure for an arteriogram will depend on the body part or system being studied. Although each facility may have specific protocols in place, generally, an arteriogram procedure follows this process:
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