Angiography is to X-ray as a global positioning system is to an old-fashioned atlas. Angiography rooms at UC San Diego Medical Centers in Hillcrest and La Jolla are the first systems of this type in San Diego County.
Angiography is a high-tech technique in which a dye is injected into a blood vessel and X-rayed to provide a clear, detailed image of the vessel’s anatomy. Unlike standard X-ray or a standard angiographic room which would illuminate a flat, one dimensional image of the vessel, the computerized system allows interventional radiologists to see the vessel in a variety of dimensions and from different angles.
Delivering Faster and Safer Treatments to Patients
This sophisticated level of imaging is critical for diagnosing and treating vascular disorders, and for performing complex interventional vessel procedures such as opening blockages in arteries and veins using angioplasty and stents; treating bile duct problems, liver, kidneys and other organs.
Interventional radiologists also use angiography to place catheters directly into tumors (allowing direct injection of chemotherapy into the tumor), and for cutting off blood flow to fibroids and aneurysms. In patients with internal bleeding, angiography can be used to guide catheter placement to block off the bleeding vessels. To prevent dangerous pulmonary blood clots from coursing through a patient’s body and lodging in the lung, the system guides placement of filters into vessels to catch the clots.
Additional Benefits of the New Technology
- Less radiation exposure to both patients and staff, without compromising image quality
- Allows interventional radiologists to combine X-ray images and view them in a variety of ways from one dimension up to three dimensions.
- Allows the radiologist to manipulate the images by rotating them at different angles and can even arrange the images as a “fly-through”, a process that emulates flying down the inside of an artery.
- All the data can also be reconstructed to produce what looks like a CT image, saving the patient from having to undergo a separate scan.