- Critical Care Associates
Shea, M.D., F.C.C.P.
Angiography is the injection of a iodine-containing solution into the pulmonary artery (the main vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs) which allows the outline of the artery and can determine the size, patency, and pattern of the blood vessels. It is extremely valuable in diagnosing pulmonary embolism, and is considered the most sensitive test to find blood clots in the lung circulation. Pulmonary angiography is a procedure that has minimal risks to the patient unless severe pulmonary hypertension or shock is present.
A long catheter (small hollow tube) is placed into the
femoral vein (in the groin area), and passed through the heart (the right atrium
and ventricle) and into the pulmonary artery (up near the collarbone). A dye is
rapidly injected into the catheter, and rapid serial x-rays are taken. Advantage
of performing pulmonary angiography is that the pulmonary artery pressure can be
measured to assess the severity of an embolism, and is the most sensitive way to
determine if a blood clot has traveled to the lungs.