Pulmonary angiography

Definition

Pulmonary angiography is a test to see how blood flows through the lung.

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.

How the Test is Performed

This test is done at a hospital. You will be asked to lie on an x-ray table.

Your pulse, blood pressure, and breathing are checked during the procedure. Electrocardiogram (ECG) leads are taped to your arms and legs to monitor your heart.

After the x-rays are taken, the needle and catheter are removed.

Pressure is applied to the puncture site for 20 to 45 minutes to stop the bleeding. After that time the area is checked and a tight bandage is applied. You should keep your leg straight for 6 hours after the procedure.

Rarely, medicines are delivered to the lungs if a blood clot has been found during the procedure.

How to Prepare for the Test

You may be asked not to eat or drink anything for 6 to 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:

How the Test will Feel

The x-ray table may feel cold. Ask for a blanket or pillow if you are uncomfortable 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.

Why the Test is Performed

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 provider will have tried other tests to diagnose a blood clot in the lungs.

Pulmonary angiography may also be used to help diagnose:

Normal Results

The x-ray will show normal structures for the age of the person.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be due to:

Risks

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. Your provider will monitor and regulate the x-rays to provide the least amount of radiation exposure. Most experts feel that the risk is low compared with the benefits. Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks for x-rays.

Considerations

Computed tomography (CT) angiography of the chest has largely replaced this test.


Review Date: 10/23/2018
Reviewed By: Mary C. Mancini, MD, PhD, Director, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Christus Highland Medical Center, Shreveport, LA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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