Avera Medical Minute: Angiograms - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute: Angiograms

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One of the images taken during Cliff Albrecht's angiogram at North Central Heart. One of the images taken during Cliff Albrecht's angiogram at North Central Heart.

Angiography is a medical imaging technique used to see the inside of blood vessels. The specialists at the Avera Heart Hospital use this technique to diagnose certain patients. We were allowed access in to North Central Heart's Cath Lab to watch an angiogram.

71 year old Cliff Albrecht  from Spencer, Iowa has a history of vessel disease in his leg. His cardiologist Dr. Tom Isaacson with North Central Heart says that places him at a higher risk of having vessel trouble in other spots. Knowing that,when Cliff started having a severe episode of chest pain and rapid heart beat recently,he went straight to the Spencer hospital.

Dr. Isaacson says, "Since there was no sign of heart attack or symptoms, they treated him there and started him on medication. We saw him and recommended this as our next step to sort out what really is the best way to care for him."

He's having an angiogram done. It's an imaging test of that uses x-rays to view the body's blood vessels.

Dr. Isaacson says, "We are using looking at the vessels by direct injection of x-ray dye into the blood vessels that supply blood flow to the heart muscle. We are looking for narrowing or blockage. We are looking for restriction to blood flow and that will help us discover how we best care for that patient."

The patient is not under anesthesia, but they are medicated to keep them relaxed and calm.

Dr. Isaacson says, "They are calmly sedated and sometimes snoring loudly. A lot of times they aren't even aware of everything we are doing around them." 

In an adjacent room to the cath lab, the cardiovascular tech charts everything that's used and done during the procedure and freezes some of the x-ray images that Dr. Isaacson sees during the angiogram. That way he can look at them immediately after the procedure.

Dr. Isaacson says, "This isn't necessarily a prelude to something else, say a stent or bipass surgery. It really is a test that helps decide what  we do next. How do we best care for them. Then we sit down with the patient and their family and discuss it and decide together."

Cliff's minimally invasive angiogram showed no major blockage, which Dr. Isaacson says means no major surgery.  A good tool to have at the hands of a great doctor who knows exactly what to look for.

Since Cliff does have vascular disease, he will be monitored frequently, take medication and watch what he eats.


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