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Angiography A procedure used to identify blockages in the arteries in the body is termed as Angiography, angiogram or arteriogram. Process of doing angiography remains the same regardless of body part for which it is being performed.
How is Angiography procedure performed?
The procedure of doing the angiography includes using a small tube called a catheter. This catheter is placed in the large blood vessel in the groin region or at the top of the leg. This catheter is then moved carefully to the body part that has the problem. Moving X-rays pictures are used in order to move the catheter inside the body. Doctor then analyses the flow of dye through the vessels with the help of an X-Ray equipment and identifies obstructions and narrowing. Blood vessels which are specific to the area having the problem are identified.
Types of Angiography Procedures
Blockage in the arteries can be detected in various body parts like heart, legs, neck, kidney or aorta using angiography. Description of various angiography procedures is following:
1. Coronary Angiography/Angiogram : In coronary angiogram, X-Ray images are used to see heart?s blood vessels of a person. The reason of doing this test is to see if there is any restriction in the blood flow going to the heart. In this procedure, a dye is injected into the blood vessels of patient?s heart. The dye used is visible to X-Ray machine. A series of images is taken by this X-Ray machine, which helps a doctor analyses blood flow in the vessels. Doctor can open blocked heart arteries (angioplasty) during coronary angiogram if necessary.
A person might need coronary angiography in following cases:
a. Pain in chest, jaw, neck or arm that can't be explained by other tests
b. A heart valve problem that requires surgery
c. Symptoms of coronary artery disease
d. Abnormal results on a noninvasive heart stress test
e. New or increasing chest pain (unstable angina)
f. Other blood vessel problems or a chest injury
2. Carotid Angiography/Angiogram: Cerebral Angiography or Carotid arteries are the arteries which supply oxygen rich blood to the brain. In this procedure, catheter is injected into a blood vessel in the leg or the arm and this catheter is guided to carotid arteries with the help of X-Ray machine. A contrast dye is injected through the catheter so that images of the carotid arteries can be taken to analyze the blood from through them.
A person might need Carotid angiography in following cases:
a. Evaluate or confirm the presence of narrowing or blockage in carotid arteries
b. Determine risk for future stroke
c. Determine the need for further treatment (angioplasty or surgery)
d. Perform a minimally invasive procedure, carotid stenting, to fix the narrowing in the carotid artery
3. Renal Angiography/Angiogram: In this procedure, a contrast dye is injected into the artery that supplies blood to the kidney. X-Ray images produced by the machine are then looked at to analyze the flow of dye through the blood vessel in the kidneys. This procedure is done to look at the ballooning, narrowing or blockages in the blood vessels going to kidneys.
A person might need renal angiography in following cases:
b.Complications from a kidney transplant
c.Bleeding (hemorrhage),Blood clot (thrombosis)
d.Narrowing of a blood vessel (stenosis)
e.An abnormal connection between arteries and veins (arteriovenous malformation)
f.Blockage (occlusion)
4. Aortic Angiography/Angiogram:Aorta is the largest artery in human?s body. It begins in the left ventricle of person?s heart and extends to the abdomen. It delivers oxygen rich blood to the entire boy. This procedure is done to detect functional problems and defects in the aorta. A dye is injected into the arteries and with the help of X-Rays, flow of the dye through the artery is analyzed. Dye enhances the visibility which help a doctor identify the abnormalities in the blood flow and defects(if any).
A person might need Aortic angiography in following cases:
a.recurring chest pain
b.Takayasu?s arteritis or inflammation of the aorta
c.aneurysm, a ballooning-out of the aorta
d.congenital heart defects, such as double aortic arch
e.peripheral artery disease
f.aortic dissection, when bleeding occurs in the walls of the aorta
g.injury to the aorta from trauma or other problems
h.aortic regurgitation or aortic stenosis, when blood returns back to the ventricle
5. Peripheral Angiography/Angiogram: This process uses X-Rays to help doctor find out the abnormalities in the blood flow, narrowing or blocking in the arteries that are responsible for blood supply to the legs. A catheter is then made to go into the arteries and a dye which is visible to X-ray machines is injected into the blood vessels. With the help of X-Ray images, areas of blockage and narrowing of arteries can then be seen.
A person might need Peripheral angiography in following cases:
a.If he think blood flow is not proper in the arteries going down patient?s legs.
b.To figure out if a surgical procedure is required to open blocked arteries.
6. Pulmonary Angiography:To check the blood vessels supplying the lungs.

Is Angiography a safe procedure ?
Though angiography is considered as a safe procedure, some side effects and complications can?t be ruled out.
Possible Side Effects:
People may feel following after angiography:
a. bruising
b. soreness
c. Collection of blood near where the cut was made
These problems generally heal over time and need no special attention.
Though complications are rare, but few people may have following:
Minor Complications:
a. an infection where the cut was made, causing the area to become red, hot, swollen and painful.
b. a mild reaction to the dye, such as an itchy rash.
Serious Complications:
a.a heart attack or stroke
b.damage to a blood vessel, causing internal bleeding
c.a serious allergic reaction to the dye resulting in dizziness, breathing difficulties.
d.kidney damage due to the dye ? this is usually temporary
Serious complications are a rarity and is felt by 1 out of 1000 people going under the procedure.

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