Angiogram Complications - Medical Negligence Solicitors – Compensation Claims

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Angiogram Complications

An angiogram is a test that employs an x-ray technique called fluoroscopy along with a special dye that lights up the inside of the blood vessels of the heart. It can actually see blood vessels in all parts of the body, including the brain and the extremities when necessary. A coronary angiogram is done on the heart while a pulmonary angiogram is done on the lungs and a cerebral angiogram is done on the brain. These are the most common angiograms performed.

In an angiogram, a small catheter (tube) is placed inside the femoral artery in the groin or in the brachial artery or vein just above the elbow. The catheter shows up on fluoroscopy and is guided to the area needing study. Then dye is injected into the catheter and into the vessel to be studied. It shows clearly the inside of the injected vessels. A regular x-ray is taken so the picture can be preserved into digital images or x-ray film.

An angiogram has the ability to find aneurysms in blood vessels (bulging areas). It can also find a blockage in a coronary artery during a coronary artery angiogram. It can tell if a person has coronary artery disease. Regular x ray can be done to determine what’s going on in the blood vessels but increasingly magnetic resonance angiograms (MRA) or computed tomography angiogram (CTA) can be done with an MRI scanner or a CT scanner. Some involve the use of contrast dye.

The purposes of an angiogram include the following:

  • To look at the blood vessel changes in a damaged organ
  • To look at a tear in the blood vessel
  • To look for an aneurysm or a narrowed area in a blood vessel
  • To look at blood vessels within a tumor
  • To show the number and condition of renal arteries prior to doing a kidney transplant
  • To find areas of bleeding
  • To see where blood vessels are diseased prior to arterial surgery on the legs
  • To see the condition of heart arteries in patients with atherosclerosis of the heart arteries

An angiogram can be simply a test or a part of interventional radiology. First the vessel and its condition are visualized and then a balloon can be used to open the blood vessel or medication can be delivered through the catheter. Bleeding can be stopped in the intestine once the bleeding vessel is determined. Medicine is applied through the tube in order to narrow the haemorrhaging artery. This clots the artery and the bleeding is stopped.

Angiograms tend to work very well but they are not risk free. Doctors can fail to do the angiogram properly, leading to major complications. Most problems are found within two hours following the angiogram and you may need some kind of emergency intervention after the angiogram that might include surgery.

Major complications include the following:

  • You can have an allergic reaction to iodine in the dye. The reaction can be mild, moderate, or severe and may need to be treated with epinephrine. Tell the doctor if you are allergic to any foods, dyes or iodine. Tell the doctor if you have asthma or hay fever.
  • The catheter can damage a blood vessel or can dislodge a clot, leading to a stroke or lack of blood flow to distal areas of the body, such as an arm, leg, or intestine.
  • There can be bleeding from the insertion site, which can be severe. There can be a clot formation at the site of insertion that can interfere with blood flow to the arm or leg.
  • The iodine used in the dye can result in dehydration or kidney damage. This is true for those who already have questionable kidneys, diabetes or pre-existing dehydration.
  • There can be damage to cells as a result of being exposed to radiation in the test process.
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