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Pulmonary angiography is a procedure that uses a special dye (contrast material) and x-rays to see how blood flows through the lungs.
Angiography is an imaging test that uses x-rays and a special dye to see inside the arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart.
Pulmonary arteriography; Pulmonary angiogram; Angiogram of the lungs
This test is done in a special unit of a hospital. You will be asked to lie on an x-ray table.
After the x-rays are taken, the needle and catheter are removed.
Pressure is immediately applied to the puncture site for 20-45 minutes to stop the bleeding. After that time the area is checked and a tight bandage is applied. The leg should be kept straight for 6 hours after the procedure.
Rarely, this test can be used to deliver medications to the lungs when a blood clot has been found.
You should not eat or drink anything for 6 - 8 hours before the test.
You will be asked to wear a hospital gown and sign a consent form for the procedure. Remove jewelry from the area being imaged.
Tell your health care provider:
The x-ray table is hard and cold, but you may ask for a blanket or pillow. You may feel a brief sting when the numbing medicine is given and a brief, sharp, stick as the catheter is inserted.
You may feel some pressure as the catheter moves up into the lungs. The contrast dye can cause a feeling of warmth and flushing. This is normal and usually goes away in a few seconds.
You may have some tenderness and bruising at the site of the injection after the test.
The test is used to detect blood clots (pulmonary embolism) and other blockages in the blood flow in the lung. Most of the time, your health care provider will already have tried other tests to diagnose a blood clot in the lungs.
Pulmonary angiography may also be used to help your doctor diagnose:
The x-ray will show normal structures for the age of the patient.
Abnormal results may be due to:
Sometimes, a person may develop an abnormal heart rhythm during this test. The health care team will monitor your heart and can treat any abnormal rhythms that develop.
Other risks include:
There is low radiation exposure. X-rays are monitored and regulated to provide the minimum amount of radiation exposure needed to produce the image. Most experts feel that the risk is low compared with the benefits.
Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of x-rays.
CT (computed tomography) angiography of the chest has largely replaced this test.
Jackson JE, Allison DJ, Meaney J. Angiography: Principles, techniques (including CTA and MRA) and complications. In: Grainger RC, Allison D, Dixon AK, eds. Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 6.
Rubens MB, Dalal P. Pulmonary Circulation and Pulmonary Thromboembolism. In: Grainger RC, Allison D, Adam, Dixon AK, eds. Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 26.
Reichelt A, Hoeper MM, Galanski M, Keberle M. Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension: evaluation with 64-detector row CT versus digital substraction angiography. Eur J Radiol. 2009 Jul;71(1):49-54