Digital Subtraction Angiography

A way of taking images of arteries, veins and organs of the body  using complex computerised X-Ray equipment…

This usually requires an injection of a special ‘dye’ to highlight the blood supply to the legs, heart or other organ.  The ‘dye’ is a clear liquid which shows on x-rays due to its high density.  This ‘dye’ is harmless and will pass out of your body in your urine over the hours following your test.

What will happen during my test?

During your test you will be cared for by a team of healthcare professionals which may include a Consultant, radiographers, nurses and ECG technicians.  You will be asked to lie on an x-ray couch and made as comfortable as possible.  The doctor who will be doing your test will explain everything to you so you know what to expect.  Your heart rate and pulse will be monitored throughout the test by one of the nursing team.  The x-ray equipment is capable of moving through 360 degrees in any plane and will take a series of complex x-ray images which will be manipulated and enhanced by the radiographer.

Will it hurt?

The procedure should not be painful, but  pain relief can be provided if required.  You may feel some initial discomfort following the injection of local anaesthetic.  Sedation can be given if you are particularly nervous, but this is not normally necessary.

How long will it take?

This depends on the test you are having done.  It could be anything between 30 minutes and 3 hours.  The DSA staff will be able to tell you in more detail as the test progresses.

How will I get my results?

The doctor carrying out your test may discus his initial findings with you at the end of the test.  However, it is often necessary to discus these findings with your Consultant to determine how this may affect your treatment.  Your consultant will discus this with you when he next sees you.

Can someone stay with me while I have my X-Ray?

No.  Regulations require us to restrict the number of people present during x-ray procedures.  There will be a nurse looking after you during your test who will reassure you and answer any questions you may have.

Will I have to stay in hospital afterwards?

After your test you will be monitored carefully to check for any complications.  You should normally be allowed home later the same day or the following day if you have been admitted specifically for this test.  The final decision as to when you will be allowed home is with the doctor that is looking after you.

Some of the more common examinations carried out in the DSA Suite are listed below:

  • Angioplasty – This is a treatment to open narrowings or blockages of arteries using a small balloon.  It would normally be used in the legs or heart, but can be used in any artery of the body
  • Arterial Stent – This is a treatment to open blockages of arteries using an expanding metal mesh which remains in place to hold the artery open.  This is used in the heart, pelvis and abdomen
  • Biliary Procedures – This is treatment to relieve a blockage of the bile duct draining the liver
  • Coronary Angiogram – This is an x-ray of the arteries that supply blood to the heart
  • Femoral Angiogram – This is an x-ray of the arteries which supply blood to the legs
  • Nephrostomy – This is a treatment to relieve pain from a blocked kidney.  A tube is inserted into the kidney to allow it to drain properly
  • Pacemaker – This is a small battery powered box that is implanted under the skin on the chest wall with wires leading to the heart to help it to beat properly.

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