Difference Between Angiogram and Angioplasty

Angiogram is an imaging investigation. Angioplasty is a reconstruction of blocked blood vessels. Vascular surgeons do angiogram to assess the status of blood flow before they decide to do angioplasty. This article will talk about angioplasty and angiogram in detail highlighting what they are, their procedure, and complications.

What is Angiogram?

Angiogram is an imaging investigation. Angiography was first developed by two Portuguese doctors. It uses a dye to visualize the lumen of blood vessels and identify obstructions. According to the indication, the ports of entry differ. Common ports of entry are femoral artery, femoral vein, or jugular vein. Entry through the femoral artery helps visualize the left side of the heart and the system of arteries. Entry through the femoral vein or jugular vein helps visualize the venous system and the right side of the heart. Using catheters and guide wires, the dye is injected selectively into these arteries or branches.

X-RAY films that are used for imaging capture either still or motion pictures, and a technique called digital subtraction removes the images of bones and keeps only the contrast enhanced vascular system in the picture. This method requires the patient to be still. Therefore, digital subtraction is not suitable for assessing the heart due to its constant motion. However, there are many uses of this vascular imaging technique.

Coronary angiogram features a cardiac catheter that is introduced through a forearm vein, guided to the coronary artery before injecting the dye. Micro angiogram helps visualize small blood vessels. Neuro vascular angiography features catheterization of brain vessels to perform interventions like coil embolization of aneurysms and AVN gluing. Peripheral angiography helps visualize blocks in leg vessels of patients with claudication.

Certain interventions like atherectomy are possible during angiogram itself. Coronary angiography can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, pericardial effusion and kidney damage.

What is Angioplasty?

Angioplasty involves widening narrowed arteries mechanically. Angioplasty was first described by a US interventional radiologist in 1964. The balloon catheter currently used all over the world in angioplasty was invented by Henry Lundquist.

Angioplasty Procedure: During angioplasty, the vascular surgeon introduces a collapsed balloon along a guide wire to the blocked location. Then he pumps up the balloon with water to a fixed size. A stent may or may not be inserted to keep the artery open. Dilating blood vessels with a balloon can only be done for blocks away from branching points. For blocks at branching points, by pass would be a better option.

Angioplasty Recovery: After angioplasty, doctors keep the patient in the ward to monitor blood pressure, heart rate, and catheter site bleeding. Patient can go home the next day if there are no complications. They can walk after 6 hours and get back to day to day work after a week. Patients with an angioplasty stent need drugs to prevent blood clotting. If the patient has shortness of breath, chest pain, and redness and swelling at the insertion site, urgent medical advice is needed.

What is the difference between Angiogram and Angioplasty?

• Angiogram is an imaging technique where a contrast dye is inserted into a specific vessel, to visualize blocks.

• Angioplasty is mechanical dilatation of a blocked site in an artery.

• Catheters used in angiogram may allow certain procedures to be done then and there after an angiogram, to relieve blockages.

• Angioplasty is a separate procedure planned and undertaken according to the findings of angiogram.

• Complications of angiogram are allergy to contrast material, abnormal heart rhythms, kidney failure, also may lead to bleeding.

• Complications of angioplasty are reperfusion syndrome, embolism, obstruction and may also lead to bleeding.


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