What are Abdominal and Lower extremity CT Angiography and MR Angiography?
CT and MRI angiography are useful in the evaluation of the vessels within the lower abdomen, pelvis and lower extremities. Short segment stenosis can be easily treated surgically or with endovascular stents, and the initial diagnostic CTA or MRA allows for appropriate surgical or interventional planning.
Are CT Angiography and MR Angiography Safe?
Not only is this technique invaluable for delineation of the body’s blood vessels, it is also relatively safe, convenient and much less invasive than traditional angiography where a sizable catheter is generally threaded through a vein or artery. In many cases, CT angiography may eliminate the need for surgery. The major risk associated with CT angiography is an allergic reaction to contrast materials used to improve the visualization of the veins and arteries.
How should I prepare for this procedure?
Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You may be given a gown to wear during the procedure. Metal objects such as jewelry, eyeglasses, dentures and hairpins should not be worn since they could negatively affect the CT images. You may also be asked to remove hearing aids and dental work, such as bridges and dentures. You may be asked not to eat or drink anything for several hours before the exam, especially if contrast material will be used. You should inform your technologist or physician of any medications you are taking and whether or not you have any allergies, especially to contrast materials. You should also tell your technologist or physician of any recent illnesses, if you are pregnant or have other medical conditions such as a history of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease or thyroid problems. Women who are breastfeeding may find it advisable to pump breast milk ahead of time so that it can be used until all the contrast material has been removed from your body.
What should I expect during this exam?
The procedure generally takes about an hour. Depending on the area to be examined, you will be positioned on the CT or MRI table on your back, side or stomach and straps and pillows may be used to help maintain the correct position and hold you still during the exam. A nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous line (IV) into your hand or arm and a small amount of contrast material may be injected to see how long it takes to reach the area to be examined. While you are positioned on the CT table, the CT table will be moved quickly through the scanner to determine the correct starting position for the scan and a test image will be taken. Then, the actual exam will begin, and you will move slowly through the scanner. At all times a technologist will be able to see, hear and speak with you. While the images are being recorded, you will hear an array of noises and an automatic injector connected to the IV will inject contrast material at a controlled rate. You may be asked to hold your breath during the scanning. When the exam is complete your IV will be removed.
While the scanning causes no pain, there may be discomfort from having to remain still for several minutes. For patients who find it difficult to remain still or who are claustrophobic or in chronic pain, a mild sedative prescribed by their physician may provide relief. If intravenous contrast material is used, you may experience a warm, flushed sensation and a metallic taste in your mouth that lasts for a few minutes. Minor reactions include itching and hives which can be relieved with medication. Light-headedness or difficulty breathing indicate a more severe allergic reaction, and you should tell the technologist or nurse immediately. After the exam, and depending upon whether or not contrast material was used, you can return to your normal activities.
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