An angiogram is an imaging test that uses fluoroscopy, or “live” X-rays, to view the arteries.
A peripheral angiography, uses X-rays to find narrowed or blocked blood vessels in the arms or legs. To create the X-ray images, the vascular surgeon injects contrast through a small flexible tube called a catheter.
What should I expect during my peripheral angiography?
We will bring you into the procedure room and connect you to equipment that monitors and records your vital signs. Medical sedation may be given if you have been medically cleared. Next, we clean the access site and drape the area with sterile drapes. The vascular surgeon will numb the area with local anesthetic.
- For leg procedures, the access point could be in the groin or the foot.
- For arm procedures, the access point could be in the arm or also in the groin.
The angiogram will show the doctor your blood vessels and highlight any areas that may need treatment. Usually we use the same access site if other devices such as balloons, stents, or atherectomy catheters are needed.
After treatment and X-ray review, the surgeon will remove the catheter and seal the access site. We will take you to the recovery room on a stretcher and monitor you for 2-4 hours.
Plaque, a material made of cholesterol, calcium and fibrous tissue, can build up along the walls of your arteries. When plaque accumulates, your arteries narrow and stiffen. Plaque build-up can reduce blood flow or cause irregularities in the inner walls of the arteries.
Atherectomy is when the vascular surgeon inserts a special catheter into the blood vessel. The atherectomy catheter uses either a cutting blade or a cool laser to remove the atherosclerotic plaque build-up from the blood vessel.
What should I expect during my atherectomy?
Most patients report feeling nothing during this part of the procedure. Some patients do experience some discomfort but this usually passes quickly.
During a balloon angioplasty, a vascular surgeon inserts a plastic tube with a balloon on the end into the narrowed area of the blood vessel. The balloon inflates to open the area and improve blood flow.
What should I expect during my balloon angioplasty?
You may feel a brief moment of discomfort when the balloon is first inflated. This feeling passes as soon as the balloon is deflated. Most patients report feeling nothing during the balloon angioplasty.
During stent placement, a vascular surgeon inserts a fine plastic catheter that contains a wire mesh tube.
Using guided X-ray, the vascular surgeon places the stent into the area of concern. The stent opens this area and creates a space for a balloon catheter. The balloon catheter is threaded through the stent to stretch and hold open the area of narrowing. This helps to improve blood flow.
What should I expect during my stent placement?
The vascular surgeon first must find the area of narrowing by injecting contrast. Once the narrow area is identified, the surgeon will place a stent in the vessel across the area of narrowing. A balloon is then placed inside the stent and inflated, expanding the stent to the proper diameter and opening the area of narrowing for improved blood flow. During the balloon inflation, a few patients have reported a brief moment of discomfort when the balloon is first inflated. This feeling passes as soon as the balloon is deflated. Most patients report feeling nothing during the angioplasty.
Thrombolysis and thrombectomy are two separate methods of removing clots from blood vessels.
With thrombolysis, a small catheter is threaded into the blood vessel and directed to the clot. A lytic, or “clot busting” drug, is administered through the catheter . The drug works on the clot for several minutes before the surgeon will remove the first catheter, insert a special suction catheter, and attempt to suction the clot.
With thrombectomy, the surgeon will insert a special catheter that will mechanically break up the clot and remove it. The two therapies can be used together to remove blood clots.