Just the Facts: Peripheral Angiograms and How They Help with Vascular Disease
If you’ve been diagnosed with peripheral arterial disease (PAD), your doctor may recommend a peripheral angiogram to not only help him or her understand the extent of the disease, but to help inform your individualized treatment plan – which will also take into account your age, lifestyle, and other factors. And although it may sound like an entirely exploratory procedure, a peripheral angiogram can, in fact, be both diagnostic and therapeutic.
What is a Peripheral Angiogram?
During an angiogram, which is the gold standard for evaluating arterial blockages, you’ll be sedated, but awake as your medical team inserts a catheter into one of your peripheral arteries (usually the femoral) and injects a small amount of contrast dye. Then, using X-ray video, your team will be able to see how your blood flows through your artery, and pinpoint any blockages.
Peripheral angiograms are generally considered safe and come with a number of benefits.
- Accurate, detailed diagnosis
- In some cases, the dye itself may be enough to relieve blockages
- Treatments, like stent placement, can sometimes be done during an angiogram
- Diagnostic X-rays leave no radiation behind and rarely cause side effects
Regardless of whether you receive an angiogram – or an angiogram with stent placement – the entire procedure typically takes just one to two hours. And because it’s generally performed in an out-patient setting, you’ll spend just few hours recovering at the surgery center or hospital, before heading home to heal.
Although your medical team will take every precaution, all medical procedures have some risks.
- Though rare, there is a slight risk of infection
- Allergic reactions to the contrast dye can occur
- X-rays pose a slight risk of cancer from radiation
- There is a slight risk of blood clotting around the catheter, which could cause a blockage requiring further treatment or surgery.
- Kidney damage from contrast dye can occur in those with kidney disease and/or diabetes
- Very rarely, the catheter may puncture the artery and cause bleeding
The risks of the procedure are slight and/or rare, however the benefits to receiving a peripheral angiogram are great – and can help you lead a full and healthy life. If you have any concerns about the procedure or questions about why your doctor thinks it’s necessary, talk with your medical team. Or, for more information on peripheral angiograms, visit vispdocs.com, or call 928.771.8477.