Angiocardiography is a form of contrast imaging that targets the heart, vena cavae, pulmonary arteries, pulmonary veins, and the aorta. A contrast agent such as iodine is injected into the patient’s bloodstream to increase visibility of any abnormalities. The heart and vessel tissues are then examined via x-ray. A typical angiocardiography captures hundreds of images in rapid succession, enabling doctors to observe movement of blood and tissues. Patients must fast before undergoing the test, and administered a sedative and antihistamine before the test begins.
This procedure is primarily used to identify and diagnose congenital heart defects and abnormalities in the surrounding vessels. Angiocardiography use has declined in recent years, with physicians favoring echocardiograms. Echocardiography (ultrasounds of the heart) has widely replaced angiocardiography in diagnosing cardiomyopathy (diseases affecting the heart muscle). However, angiocardiography is still preferred in certain cases because it shows greater anatomical detail than echocardiography. Angiocardiography is particularly useful in identifying constricted or obstructed vessels. The dye can be easily observed flowing through healthy sections of the heart and vessels or being blocked by fatty deposits and other lesions.
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