Angiography

Diagnostic and interventional angiography

The technique of angiography consists of using a radio-opaque contrast medium injected via a catheter to opacify blood vessels (which are not naturally visible).
 
The catheter is inserted into the vessel in sterile conditions under local anaesthesia. There may be a temporary sensation of warmth when the product is injected, but this disappears very quickly. As with any radiological investigation, the patient must hold their breath for a few seconds while the images are being taken.
 
The procedure is not painful. Current angiography devices benefit from the latest advances in technology and computing to provide ultra-high resolution digital images.

Interventional angiography and endovascular treatment

Small surgical interventions can be performed using catheters inserted into the vessels:

  • special products are injected to block certain tumour-associated blood vessels. This is the principle of embolisation.

These products may be combined with pharmaceutical products, in various forms of chemoembolisation:

  • using special balloons to dilate narrowed arteries and restore satisfactory blood flow (known as percutaneous transluminal angioplasty)
  • fitting a stent to prevent restenosis of dilated vessels
  • fitting a special chemotherapy pump to inject drugs into an artery or vein or to take repeated samples from patients with fragile veins.

Visualisation of vessels

In its diagnostic role, angiography can be used to visualise stenosis, dilation, vessels of irregular appearance and hypervascular tumours. In certain indications, it has been replaced by non-invasive investigations such as a CT or MRI scan.
 
In contrast, the therapeutic applications of interventional angiography mean that it remains relevant, and these applications continue to expand.

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