A peripheral angiogram is a test carried out to identify any blood vessel narrowing or blocked areas in the arteries supplying your pelvis, legs, knees, ankles and less frequently, your arms. The angiogram will determine whether there is any Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). PAD can cause narrowings or blockages in your peripheral arteries causing pain, discomfort and tiredness (also referred to as claudication). The pain may disappear with rest.
If a narrowing or blockage is found during an angiogram, a special balloon or stent (a fine mesh stainless steel tube) may be used to open up the narrowed portion of the artery. This is called Percutaneous Transluminal Angioplasty (PTA). In cases where there is an extreme blockage, you may be referred to a surgeon for bypass surgery.
The information provided by this procedure provides details about the function and patency of the specific arteries being studied. It is used to diagnose a variety of conditions, including:
- blockages of the arteries, called Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD);
- enlargements of the arteries, called thoracic (TAA) and abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA).
- kidney artery conditions;
- problems in the arteries that branch off the aorta;
- malformed arteries, known as vascular malformations;
- problems with your veins, such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT); or
- clots in the lungs, known as pulmonary embolism.
A – Angiogram showing tibio peroneal artery in your leg. Arrow shows a narrowing due to PAD.
B – Narrowing treated with a stent
What is Peripheral Angioplasty?
Once your peripheral angiogram has been carried out and a diseased vessel has identified, your specialist will usually proceed to treat the diseased area at the same time. This is referred to as percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) or intervention.
The PTA is carried out by guiding a balloon catheter (thin flexible tube with a small balloon at the end) to the place where the artery is narrowed. Once in position, the balloon is inflated and the narrowing is gradually widened.
If the narrowing or blockage does not respond to balloon treatment, you specialist may consider placing a stent in the narrowing. A stent is a small expandable mesh tube made from a special metal alloy. Once positioned at the point of narrowing, the stent is opened up to a predetermined width to hold the narrowed artery open. Reclosure (restenosis) of the artery is less likely to occur if a stent is used.