Is a Pulmonary Angiography?
An angiography, sometimes called an arteriography, is a test
doctors use to see your arteries. To perform this procedure, you will receive
an injection of a contrast dye, which will then allow your arteries to show up
in an X-ray.
A pulmonary angiography is typically performed to measure the
pressure of the blood vessels carrying blood to your lungs and to evaluate for
blockages or narrowing of these blood vessels from, for example, a blood clot.
Should I Prepare for a Pulmonary Angiography?
Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to prepare
for the procedure. You will likely need to fast for six to eight hours before
the test to avoid vomiting or feeling nauseous during the procedure.
Provide your doctor with any important medical information, such
as telling them you are pregnant, as X-rays can be harmful to the fetus. You
should also let your doctor know about any medications you are taking or any
Is a Pulmonary Angiography Performed?
You will receive an intravenous sedative to help you relax during
Your doctor will insert a tube, called a catheter, into one of
your veins. This is typically done through the vein in your groin and advanced
up to the vessels in your lungs. When the catheter is in place, pressure
measurements will be taken and your doctor will inject the contrast dye for
better visualization of your anatomy.
Your doctor will then take X-ray images of your chest. These
images show the paths and progress of the dye and helps them to figure out if you
have a blockage or another problem in your arteries.
Is a Pulmonary Angiography Used?
Most commonly, your doctor will perform a pulmonary angiography
if they suspect a blockage in your pulmonary, or lung, vessels.
Your doctor can also perform a pulmonary angiography for other
issues in your body, such as a potential clot or pulmonary artery aneurysm.
Your doctor may also perform a pulmonary angiography if you were born with
narrow blood vessels in and around your lungs, as this may manifest in heart
issues and shortness of breath with activity.
In many cases, your doctor may choose to use CT angiography
instead of pulmonary angiography. According to Johns
Hopkins Medicine, CT angiographies are performed more today than the rare pulmonary
If you have a clot, your doctor may also choose to treat it as
part of the angiography procedure.
Are the Risks of a Pulmonary Angiography?
Serious complications from this procedure are rare, but include
bleeding, infection, and puncture of the lung vessels. If you are pregnant,
radiation involved with the X-rays in this treatment may carry some risk for
your fetus. Discuss this with your doctor before your procedure.
Some people may have an allergic reaction or decreased kidney
function from the dye, and this may be more of an issue if you’re taking
certain medications. Make sure to discuss with your doctor all of the
medications you’re taking prior to this procedure.
Other risks are related to the catheter. Your nerves or blood
vessels may be injured as the catheter is inserted, but rarely can the catheter
cause a disturbance in the rhythm of your heart.
Your doctor will be aware of these risks and will be ready to
treat them if they occur.
The whole procedure generally takes a few hours and you will be
monitored afterward as a precaution. Generally, you can drive home yourself and
continue with normal activities.