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Role of Angiography in Modern Era

Published on Dec 30, 2014 and last reviewed on Sep 14, 2022   -  3 min read


Angiography is done to visualize the insides of blood vessels using X-rays. Learn about the various types and uses of angiography.

Role of Angiography in Modern Era

What Is the Meaning of Angiography?

The word angiography has originated from the combination of two Greek words i.e, angion meaning 'vessel' and graphein meaning 'to record'.

  • Angiography is a technique used to see the inside i.e, lumen of blood vessels specifically arteries/arterioles/capillaries (arteries carry oxygenated blood from heart to the different body parts and organs).
  • It is different from venography which involves the imaging of veins (veins carry deoxygenated blood from body parts to the lungs).
  • It is interesting to know that although angiography is most commonly done to diagnose Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) of the heart, this technique was first discovered and used to diagnose the various vascular disorders of the brain instead of heart when a neurologist named Egas Moniz first performed cerebral angiography in 1927.
  • In 1929, Dr.Forssmann first introduced this technique for diagnosing heart disorders when he himself passed a catheter from a vein in his arm, pushing it into the right chamber of his heart and demonstrated its position by taking an x-ray.
  • Angiography is performed by injecting some radio-opaque dye in the blood vessel and then taking images of the concerned vessels using techniques based on x-ray imaging.
  • Angiography is considered as one of the most specific laboratory imaging investigations in the assessment of anatomy and physiology of arterial blood vessels.
  • The procedure was associated with some complications as it involved introduction of a sharp device (catheter) in the blood vessels which could puncture and damage the blood vessels, but with time Seldinger technique was discovered in which no sharp device was required to stay inside the vessels.
  • In 1977, coronary angiography was performed for the first time in an awake patient, earlier it used to be performed under anaesthesia.

How Is Angiography Helpful?

Angiography is an excellent investigation to diagnose a variety of vessel disorders in various parts and organs of the body like:

1) Coronary angiography: It is done to diagnose the narrowing of coronary arteries which supply blood to the walls of the heart and their narrowing/blockage leads to myocardial infarction/ischemia i.e, in simple language, a heart attack.

2) Cerebral angiography: It is done to diagnose abnormalities of the blood vessels of brain.

3) Pulmonary angiography: It is done to diagnose pulmonary embolism (blockage of main vessel of the lung).

4) Peripheral angiography: It is done to diagnose the occlusive disease of the arteries of limbs specifically legs.

5) Renal angiography: It is done to diagnose renal artery stenosis (narrowing of arteries that supply blood to the kidneys).

6) Spinal angiography: It is done to diagnose vascular malformations and certain tumours of spine.

Some Interesting Facts About Angiography

  • Catheters made from hollow metal pipes were used in dead bodies to study the function of cardiac valves in as early as 400 BC.
  • In USA, coronary angiography is the second most common operative procedure performed with around 4 million procedures every year !!
  • Pioneer of cardiac angiography Dr.Forssmann could not get even a single patient to perform this procedure. At last he performed the procedure by himself and on himself !!

Health Tips

  • Do not waste crucial time, instead rush to the nearest super speciality hospital as soon as one develops the symptoms of impending heart attack or brain stroke.
  • Because, lesser the time to initiate interventional procedures aided by angiography, better the results are.
  • Infact the best outcome in angiography aided angioplasty in the patients of coronary artery blockage (heart attack) is when the procedure is performed in less than two hours after initiation of the symptoms.

Consult a cardiologist online to know more about angiography --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/cardiologist

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is Angiography, and How Is It Performed?

Angiography (Angiogram) examines blood vessels by injecting an iodine dye, commonly called the contrast medium, and viewing it under X-rays. Physicians perform it in the angio laboratories. It is performed when the patient is lying on his back, where a unique sheath and then the catheter are moved up in the vein with the groin or wrist's arteries.


Can an Angiography Test Be Painful?

Angiography is a painless procedure where the pain felt is less than the pain in a routine blood test. There is no pain during the angiogram as there are no nerves present in the arteries.


Why Is Angiography Needed?

Angiography is needed to detect and treat conditions like:
- Heart-related problems.
- To identify narrowing of blood vessels in patients with leg cramps or claudication.
- Renal stenosis (to prevent high blood pressure).
- In head to detect and repair stroke.
- To locate blockages in the lungs.


How Much Time Does It Take to Perform Angiography?

Angiography can usually take 30 minutes to 1 hour, but it may also take a long time if combined with other catheterization procedures. The duration also depends upon the medical condition of the patient.


How Do You Differentiate between Angiography and Angioplasty?

Angiography gives detailed information about the heart's functions and the amount of oxygen present in the blood as it passes through the heart. Angioplasty is used to narrow the arteries or reconstruct the blocked blood vessels, followed by an angiogram. Local anesthetics are used in both procedures.


Can I Eat before Angiography?

It would be best if you did not eat anything eight hours before the angiography to pinpoint problems in your heart and arteries.


How Is Angiography Conducted?

Angiography is an imaging technique that examines blood vessels by injecting a special like iodine dye, commonly called the contrast medium, and viewing it under X-rays. It is done when the patient is lying on his backbone, where a single sheath and then the catheter are passed up in the vein with the groin or wrist's arteries.


Do I Have Any Risk in Taking Angiography?

Angiography is a safe procedure across all age groups, but it also has minor side effects like soreness and bruising and a small risk of serious complications.


What Are the Types of Angiography?

There are various types of angiography which include: - Coronary angiography. - Peripheral angiography. - Pulmonary angiography. - Cerebral angiography. - Retinal angiography. - Digital subtraction angiography. - Magnetic resonance angiography. - Radionuclide angiography. - Computed tomography angiography.


What Are the Advantages of Angiography?

The advantages of angiography are:
- This provides proper localization of the bleeding.
- It has a therapeutic benefit that includes vasopressin infusion or embolization.
- It does not require the preparation of the bowel.


Is There Any Alternative Method for Angiography?

An alternative for angiogram is the non-invasive test called CT angio, which has limited sensitivity and specificity. But also to proceed for angioplasty to eliminate the block, one needs the conventional angiogram where CT angio is not helpful.

Last reviewed at:
14 Sep 2022  -  3 min read




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