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Pulmonary angiogram

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Pulmonary angiogram also known as pulmonary angiography or pulmonary arteriogram is a procedure that uses a special dye (contrast material) accompanied by an X ray to assess the blood vessels and blood flow through the lungs.


Why is it done?

Pulmonary angiogram can detect several conditions of the lungs which cannot be observed under normal x ray. It is a diagnostic test for the following medical conditions:

  •  Blood clots or pulmonary embolism
  •  Blockages to blood flow in lungs
  •  Pulmonary hypertension
  •   Pulmonary artery aneurysms
  •  Arteriovenous malformation in the lung
  •  Pulmonary stenosis- congenital reasons o r acquired


How is it performed?

Pulmonary angiogram is performed by a radiologist who inserts a catheter intravenously in the femoral blood vessel  present in the groin or in the brachial vein located just above the elbow.

The catheter is then guided to the pulmonary artery under the guidance of an X-ray. Once the catheter is properly placed, the contrast dye is injected in the catheter which travels though the pulmonary artery.

The contrast dye is clearly visible in an X-ray film and the radiologist can see the inside anatomy of the pulmonary vessels, measure the blood flow and detect other abnormality, which get recorded in the computer monitor.

Your radiologist might use fluoroscopy which uses continuous X-ray beam to check the blood flow and abnormality in details.

How to prepare for the test?

You must tell your doctor if you are pregnant, taking any medicines like blood pressure pills, blood thinners, etc., vitamin or herbal supplements or any other medicines, have a medical condition like bleeding disorder or allergic to contrast dyes or any other substance.

Your doctor will ask you to not eat or drink for 4 to 8 hours before the angiogram and might find it necessary to stop the medicines like aspirin and anticoagulants, if you are taking. A blood test is usually done prior to the angiogram to check for blood clotting and other parameters.

Furthermore, you will have to remove jewellery, empty your bladder and then a sedative would be given.


How does the test feel?

You will be lying down on your back during the pulmonary angiography. IV drip lines will be started. The injected site will be cleansed and a local anaesthetic will be given before inserting the catheter. You will feel pressure while the catheter is moved to the pulmonary vein and when the dye is injected you might sense nausea, vomiting, headache or flushing. Let your doctor know immediately on experiencing breathing trouble, palpitations or sweating. Your heartbeat, blood pressure, breathing, etc will be monitored during the angiogram.


What to expect?

The test can last for 12- 24 hours depending upon the purpose of the angiogram. The catheter will be removed and the site would be pressed to avoid bleeding. You will be kept under observation in the recovery room for an hour or two and would be given fluids to ease flushing out of the dye from your body. Make sure someone accompanies you to home.


Risks associated with the test

Although uncommon, some risks associated with pulmonary angiogram are:

  •  Injury to nerves, puncture of blood vessels, hematoma
  •  Excessive bleeding and infection at injection site
  •  Allergic response to the contrast dye
  •  Sudden heart attack or stroke

Written by:healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: June 16, 2014