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What Are the Risks of Angiograms?

Angiograms, while invaluable for diagnosing heart conditions, carry risks such as bleeding, infection, and rare allergic reactions to contrast dye. Advanced imaging techniques minimize these dangers, but it's crucial to weigh benefits against potential complications. Intrigued by what else you should consider before an angiogram? Discover the full picture and how to prepare for this important procedure in our comprehensive guide.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The risks of angiograms include damage to the blood vessels, allergic reactions to tracer dyes, and bleeding at the site of injections and catheter insertions. Angiograms are invasive, and while the risks are low, they cannot be completely eliminated. Some patients may be more vulnerable to complications like kidney damage after an angiogram. Before proceeding with the test, it is important to review medical history and discuss concerns with a doctor. Patients can also ask why the test is being recommended and if there are any alternatives available.

Some of the risks of angiograms surround injections and catheter insertions. These can expose the patient to the risk of infection, pain, bleeding, and bruising. In rare cases, advancing a catheter through the blood vessels can dislodge plaques and clots. These may travel to the heart, lungs, or intestinal tract and cause an infarction, where part of the tissue dies because a blockage prevents circulation. It is also possible to rip or tear the blood vessels, especially if they are fragile.

An angiogram is an X-ray used to see how blood is flowing through the blood vessels.
An angiogram is an X-ray used to see how blood is flowing through the blood vessels.

The tracer dyes used in an angiogram can also be a cause for concern. Some patients experience an allergic reaction to them and may develop skin irritation, difficulty breathing, and other symptoms. In patients with existing kidney disease, the risks of angiograms can also include more kidney problems, as the body may not be able to eliminate the tracer dye completely when the kidneys are stressed.

Patients should discuss any concerns they have with an angiogram with their doctor before the procedure.
Patients should discuss any concerns they have with an angiogram with their doctor before the procedure.

With coronary angiograms, there is also a risk of cardiac complications like arrhythmias or edema in the cardial sac. The technician will work to manage these risks, but if a patient already has an unstable heart, they may be difficult to avoid entirely. The risks of angiograms also include radiation. Although radiation levels are low with this test, the patient will be exposed to some radiation, and this may be an issue if the patient needs multiple medical imaging studies with radiation.

People with a history of kidney disease should not ungergo an angiogram.
People with a history of kidney disease should not ungergo an angiogram.

Usually, the benefits of an angiogram outweigh the risks. This test can provide important information about blood vessel health and may assist a doctor with a procedure to repair or open the blood vessels. Patients should consider the risks of angiograms before consenting to the test and can ask for specific information if they have concerns. A doctor can discuss any issues that might be a special cause for worry in a patient and can also provide information about how angiogram complications would be managed if they occurred.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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    • An angiogram is an X-ray used to see how blood is flowing through the blood vessels.
      By: Balint Radu
      An angiogram is an X-ray used to see how blood is flowing through the blood vessels.
    • Patients should discuss any concerns they have with an angiogram with their doctor before the procedure.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Patients should discuss any concerns they have with an angiogram with their doctor before the procedure.
    • People with a history of kidney disease should not ungergo an angiogram.
      By: CLIPAREA.com
      People with a history of kidney disease should not ungergo an angiogram.
    • The radiation exposure during an angiogram may be problematic if the patient also needs a medical imaging study that will also involve radiation.
      By: Maurizio Milanesio
      The radiation exposure during an angiogram may be problematic if the patient also needs a medical imaging study that will also involve radiation.