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I Need An Angiogram! What Does That Mean?

Diagnostic tests, even non-invasive tests like a simple X-ray, can put us all on edge. Being recommended for an angiogram can cause even more anxiety. Here, Dr. Tanquilut, Dr. Pradhan and Dr. Alhalbouni take you through why, how and what of having an angiogram to give you peace of mind about this minimally invasive procedure.

There are a great deal of symptoms that may prompt your physician to recommend an angiogram. You may have leg pain when you walk that improves when you rest, stroke symptoms like a sudden weakness or confusion, swelling in your hands and feet, changes in urination habits, problems breathing – or a dozen other symptoms.

Any one of these symptoms could be an indication that there are problems with your veins or arteries. You may be experiencing atherosclerosis, when arteries are thinned or blocked by plaque. You may have a weak spot in your artery, an aneurysm, that bulges outward. You may also be experiencing a tear or a leak.

When your doctor recommends an angiogram, he is giving you the gold standard of care for evaluating your arteries. Having an angiogram can both help to diagnose a condition and help to treat it.

You will be requested to discontinue taking any aspirin, aspirin-type medications and blood thinners for several days before your angiogram. On the day of the test, you will need to avoid eating and drinking for 6 to 8 hours before the procedure. Depending upon your overall health, the test can be performed either as an outpatient procedure or may necessitate a stay in the hospital.

A Vascular Specialist medical professional will begin an IV. Dr. Tanquilut, Dr. Pradhan or Dr. Alhalbouni will ensure you are properly sedated and then make a small incision into your femoral artery, located in your groin, where the leg meets the hip. A needle will be inserted, then catheters and wires. These will be threaded through your arteries to the area needing diagnose and treatment.

When the area of concern is reached, contrast material such as iodine will be injected. This helps the X-ray produce accurate images of your blood vessels. At this point, depending upon your level of sedation, you may feel a warmth in the targeted area, a slight headache or a metallic taste in your mouth.

Your Vascular Specialists fellowship trained surgeon may actually treat your condition during the angiogram. If conditions are right and images indicate a need, he’ll guide a balloon to the blocked or thinned arteries and then inflate the balloon to compress the blockage against the walls of the artery. Again, contrast material will be injected to carefully examine the procedure’s results. If your artery is not open to our satisfaction, your surgeon will consider inserting a stent to hold open the vessel.

Your angiogram may take 20 minutes or it could take hours, depending upon location of the blockage, image results and treatment options. After the test, a weight or clamp will be put on the incision site to stop bleeding. You will be required to stay in a prone position for several hours before going home.

Our medical professionals will review your aftercare with you, including any activity or weight-lifting restrictions for the next several days. You will probably be encouraged to drink extra fluids to fully flush the contrast materials from your body. You may need someone to drive you home if you’ve been sedated.

An angiogram shouldn’t cause anxiety or distress. In the hands of our experienced and evidence-based specialists, your angiogram will put you on the path to better health.


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