Angiography involves imaging of blood vessels through an X-ray using contrast agents which are injected into the bloodstream through a catheter. The images taken are called angiograms which provide information about blood vessel abnormalities, such as narrowing, blockage, inflammation, abnormal widening and bleeding, using a liquid contrast agent. If the artery is narrowed, a tiny balloon can be inflated to widen the artery and restore normal blood flow and the procedure is called angioplasty. Angiography procedures require general anaesthetic. During the procedure, while lying on a bed in a room like an operating theatre with special X-ray equipment. A specialist doctor carries out the procedure using X-ray images to find the abnormal blood vessel and your breathing, heart beat, oxygen levels, blood pressure, and other vital functions will be monitored during the process and a small cannula (tube) will be inserted into a vein in your hand. The area around the artery to be treated is painted with antiseptic and covered to minimise infections. Local anaesthetic is used to numb the area where a soft catheter will be inserted into the blood vessel. In some cases, the groin area is shaved before going into the angiography suite. Once the area is numb, and the catheter inserted, the blood vessels are made visible on screen by injecting contrast medium. The contrast medium is eliminated from the body through urine after the procedure. When X-ray images are being taken, you need to keep very still so that the images are clear, and you might be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds.
The radiographer who will take the X-ray images and the radiologist conducting the procedure will explain the process of angiography with instructions on what to do.
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