Angiography or arteriography is a medical imaging technique used to visualize the inside, or lumen, of blood vessels and organs of the body, with particular interest in the arteries, veins and the heart chambers. This is traditionally done by injecting a radio-opaque contrast agent into the blood vessel and imaging using X-ray based techniques such as fluoroscopy. The film or image of the blood vessels is called an angiograph, or more commonly, an angiogram.
Depending on the type of angiogram, access to the blood vessels is gained most commonly through the femoral artery, to look at the left side of the heart and the arterial system or the jugular or femoral vein, to look at the right side of the heart and the venous system. Using a system of guide wires and catheters, a type of contrast agent (which shows up by absorbing the x-rays), is added to the blood to make it visible on the x-ray images.
The X-ray images taken may either be still images, displayed on a image intensifier or film, or motion images. For all structures except the heart, the images are usually taken using a technique called digital subtraction angiography (DSA). Images in this case are usually taken at 2 - 3 frames per second, which allows the radiologist to evaluate the flow of the blood through a vessel or vessels. This technique "subtracts" the bones and other organs so only the vessels filled with contrast agent can be seen. The heart images are taken at 15-30 frames per second, not using a subtraction technique. Because DSA requires the patient to remain motionless, it cannot be used on the heart.
Both these techniques enable the radiologist or cardiologist to see stenosis (blockages or narrowings) inside the vessel which may be inhibiting the flow of blood and causing pain.
Angiography Technologists usually receive on-the-job training. There are limited program options.
$32,800 and $61,580
US Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Occupational Outlook Handbook,
$49,562 and $63,968
Meet a Professional: Michelle “Morgan”
I was a single mother of three children when I decided to return to school in search of a profession that would allow me to raise a family alone. I was a person with a positive attitude who had time, was willing to commit, and was focused. I became a registered technologist and settled in angio’s.
I liked the team atmosphere and realized that I had a crucial part in patient satisfaction and care.
Get the Picture?
Angiography is a great profession for those who can embrace variety and adapt to change. As a licensed skilled technologist I operate sophisticated equipment that rotates and spins to capture all angles of a diseased vessel. I actively assist the physician during procedures as they navigate wires and catheters in a 3-dimensional plane within a patient’s body, while we are watching a 2-dimensional image on a screen. This I find most fascinating just as it does to those watching upon us. (If your quiet enough you’ll be able to hear some ooohs and aaahs in the spectator control room. It’s pretty cool!)
Additional knowledge of other ancillary equipment and supplies is a must to be a competent technologist.
I like that the Cleveland Clinic is a highly energetic workplace. The work is stimulating and adventurous leaving no room for boredom. We are all working together as a team of professionals in a cooperative effort towards a desired outcome. We continually do our best to make patients better. I’m always motivated to move on to the next task with an open mind and positive attitude. I really have a lot of fun here.