Blood Vessel Conditions: How an Angiogram Can Help Your Diagnosis

Blog Post
By South Valley Vascular
January 21, 2021

As your heart beats, it pumps blood through your circulatory system. It is made up of blood vessels that are similar to elastic tubes. They are responsible for carrying blood to every part of your body.

Vascular disease is any condition affecting your circulatory system, including diseases of your arteries, lymph vessels, and veins. It also includes any blood disorder that may affect circulation. These conditions are typically diagnosed with an angiogram.

What Is an Angiogram?

The simple answer to what is an angiogram is that it is an x-ray of your blood vessels. Since this can be done for many different organs, the angiogram procedure is oftentimes used to help a doctor diagnose a condition that affects your brain, heart, arms, or legs. With this test, your doctor can detect any abnormalities in your blood vessels, including blood clots, weakened blood vessels, and deposits of plaque.

The reason the term “angiogram” is so broad is that it refers to numerous types of diagnostic tests that your doctor may use to detect if there’s a blockage or narrowing of your blood vessels. This is an important test because it is used in diagnosing various cardiovascular diseases such as vascular stenosis, coronary atherosclerosis, and even aneurysms. 

There are several times when a doctor may order this diagnostic test, including:

  • If you have abnormal stress test results, this test may be used as a follow up to see if you have signs of a blocked or narrow artery.
  • When you’re experiencing new or unusual chest pain, this test may be ordered to find out the cause.
  • Anyone who’s had a stroke, heart attack, or suffered from heart failure will typically be given this test.

An angiogram can be used to examine blood vessels throughout the body. This includes those that are located in the heart, chest, back, neck, abdomen, pelvis, arms, hands, legs, and feet.

What Is the Angiogram Procedure?

Traditionally, when your doctor performs this test, they will insert a catheter (a long, narrow tube) into an artery located in the arm, upper thigh, or groin. Contrast dye is then inserted into the catheter so that the doctor can take x-rays of the blood vessels. This dye helps to ensure that the blood vessels are more visible in the x-rays. Today, some doctors no longer use x-ray machines, opting instead for the use of CT scans or MRI scans. 

 

Once the procedure is completed. It is used to diagnose a variety of conditions, including:

  • Aneurysms, a bulge that develops in artery walls when they become weakened
  • Atherosclerosis, a condition that occurs when plaques or other fatty materials collect on the inner walls of the arteries
  • Pulmonary embolisms, a.k.a. blood clots
  • Vascular stenosis, a condition that causes abnormal narrowing in the blood vessels that lead to the brain, legs, or heart
  • Congenital abnormalities that may occur in either the blood vessels or heart
  • As a way of evaluating the blood vessels’ health before surgery
  • To identify any blood vessels that may be feeding a tumor
  • To plan treatments such as chemoembolization, coronary bypass, or stenting
  • To evaluate how a stent is doing once it’s been placed in the body

Where Should I Get an Angiogram?

There are many reasons why your doctor may suggest that you have this test. If you live in or around the Southern San Joaquin Valley, there’s only one place you should turn to for the procedure. Call (559) 625-4118 or visit South Valley Vascular to talk to a doctor today.