What is a spinal angiogram procedure?
A spinal angiogram is a diagnostic medical procedure to evaluate and examine the blood vessels around the spinal cord in an extremely precise manner. It is performed by neurointerventional radiologists who observe blood vessels (arteries and veins) around the spinal cord using sophisticated modern imaging equipment. A dye or contrast medium is carefully injected using a small and flexible tube (catheter). This catheter is generally inserted in the groin area and is gently advanced into the blood vessel to be targeted. .
What are the conditions that can be diagnosed using a spinal angiogram?
Spinal angiography is a very useful diagnostic procedure to diagnose certain medical conditions like:
- Spinal cord vascular malformations like dural arteriovenous fistulas (DAVF)
- Arteriovenous malformations (AVM)
- Vascular tumors.
How does a spinal angiogram procedure work?
The spinal angiogram procedure is performed in the well-equipped neuro-angiography suite. X-ray equipment help in generating the images which are recorded and displayed on screens so that the doctor can analyze the blood flow in the blood vessels supplying the spinal cord.
Generally, light sedation is given to the patient before performing neuro-angiography procedures. The catheter is inserted into a specific artery in the leg area via a small skin incision. This gives the angiographer a direct route to the blood vessels around the spine or spinal cord.
The catheter is then placed at the site of origin of the blood vessels to be examined. Then contrast agent is injected at the site. The contrast usually produces a warm, but not painful, feeling that lasts for a few seconds. After this, contrast-guided X-ray images are generated. In the end, the catheter is removed and the doctor has to hold the pressure for 15- 20 minutes at the site before the application of a compression bandage.
Is spinal angiogram a safe procedure?
Although, there are some risks involved, diagnostic spinal angiography procedures are generally safe when performed by trained doctors. They are discussed with the patient before the procedure and the benefit usually outweighs the risks..