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Angiography is a special form of x-ray examination that shows the shape of the blood flow in arteries and veins. A special dye is injected into the bloodstream which shows up when the x-ray is taken.
Angiography shows whether blood vessels are narrow, irregular or blocked. It detects any diseases that change the appearance of the blood vessel channel such as atherosclerosis, which causes fatty plaques to be deposited in the lining and narrows the vessel. It shows up blood clots (thrombosis) which can block vessels, and local ballooning of the vessel itself (aneurysm).
Angiography can also detect the development of clumps of new vessels and other abnormal patterns that suggest tumours or injury to organs.
Angiography is especially important in investigating the state of the arteries supplying the brain, and the presence of abnormal arteries in and around the brain. Angiography is used most often to check the state of the coronary arteries of the heart. In this case it is used to identify the sites of narrowing or blockage in arteries, so that these may be treated by balloon angioplasty or, if necessary, by a coronary artery bypass operation.