An angiogram is a test that shows blood flow through the arteries. Angiograms are a great diagnostic tool for heart problems as well as kidney problems. If certain areas of the body are not getting enough blood, an angiogram will diagnose that. When you suffer from kidney-related issues other diagnostic tools are not always effective. Blood flow issues usually cause kidney problems. Most of the issues stem from problems in the renal artery. When the blood is not flowing right, your body suffers. Both heart attack and strokes are other issues related to blood flow. When blood flow is limited, you also lose oxygen. Getting an early diagnosis for kidney-related issues can improve your prognosis. An angiogram can save your life.
There are blood vessels all over the body. There are three major types: capillaries, veins, and arteries. Capillaries are the smallest of blood vessels, and arteries are the largest. When there is a problem with a capillary, it is not considered a big deal. Broken capillaries do create bruises. Bruises all over the body can be life-threatening. One broken capillary is not a major problem unless yu have blot clot issues, but thats another topic for another day. Veins are typically seen all over the body. It is the vein that gets poked when you get blood drawn. They are small, yet visible. Arteries tend to cause the most problems primarily because a larger amount of blood flows through them. There are several arteries in the body. When it comes to heart problems it is primarily due to problems in the artery.
Stenosis and atherosclerosis are two major problems that affect blood flow. Stenosis is the narrowing of the arteries. The arteries are supposed to be a certain width. The size of the artery contributes to the effectiveness of blood flow. A narrow artery limits the amount of blood that can flow through the body. Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the artery. Arteries are not hard, rigid structures. They have some flexibility. They have to be flexible to carry blood. They must be able to expand as blood flows through them. A hard artery limits blood flow and does not adjust to changes in blood pressure and blood flow. Plaque buildup is the primary cause of both stenosis and atherosclerosis. The more the plaque builds up, the more blood flow is limited. Sometimes it gets to the point where the artery is completely blocked. Once this happens your risk of kidney failure greatly increases.
Types of Angiograms
There is not one artery in the body; therefore, there is not just one type of angiogram that can be done. Angiograms are categorized based on their location. Coronary angiograms are some of the most common angiograms done. Coronary angiograms look at the arteries near the heart. The other forms of angiograms are as follows:
- Cerebral Angiograms– Analyzes blood flow of the arteries in the brain
- Peripheral Angiogram- Analyzes blood flow of the arteries in the arms and legs
- Pulmonary Angiogram – Analyzes blood flow of the arteries in the lungs
- Carotid Angiogram– Analyzes blood flow of the arteries in the head and neck
- Aortogram– Analyzes blood flow through the aorta
- Renal Angiogram– Analyzes blood flow of the arteries to the kidneys
The procedure requires the use of a catheter. A catheter is placed into the vein in the groin or the femoral artery of the thigh. In rare cases, the catheter is put just below the elbow. When looking at the renal artery, it is best to go through the thigh because it is closer. The catheter travels through the vein or the artery to the area the physician is trying to study. Once the catheter reaches the appropriate location, contrast dye is injected into the blood vessel. Contrast dye allows the X-ray machine to pick up the blood vessels. Once the dye is in place, the X-ray machine takes pictures of the blood vessels in the body.
The purpose of an angiogram is to detect problems in blood vessels. Blood flow is just one of the major things it analyzes. A doctor can diagnose aneurysms, internal bleeding, and tears in blood vessels. When there is renal artery disease, the doctor can see just how bad the flow of blood is to the kidneys. Atherosclerosis is diagnosed. When there is organ damage, an angiogram can also analyze the damage to the blood vessels connected with the organs. Finally, tumors are diagnosed. Tumors do not typically form in the blood vessel, but they can form near the vessel allowing the doctor to detect its growth and pattern of blood flow.
Angiograms are used as diagnostic tools, but they may also be used as a preventative tool. When there is a diagnosis of limited blood flow, you can get treatment before it turns into a life-threatening condition. Blood flow is extremely important for your health. If you notice symptoms of fatigue or shortness of breath, or even change in urine color, it could be a result of blood flow problems. There are few risks to an angiogram. The procedure itself is also quick. Having one can be the best decision you make.
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