A few years ago my dad went into the emergency room with chest pain. Because he has hypertension and a history of heart complications the hospital staff immediately took him to get an angiogram done. The concern was that he was about to have a heart attack. The test was administered and everything was found to be normal. Unfortunately for my dad this test did more harm than good.

The following day he felt some pain in his right wrist. He eventually realized he could not feel his pulse in that wrist. He called the Physician’s Assistant that had administered the angiogram and was told this kind of complication does occur to one in every one thousand persons that have an angiogram done. He was also told not to worry about it and it seemed as if this would have no effect on his lifestyle. However as someone who works out daily, my dad quickly found out his abilities were limited. Any exercise that required him to put pressure on his wrist was no longer possible. That put push-ups, pull ups, and most weightlifting exercises out of the question.

An angiogram is an X ray image of a person’s blood vessels after they are filled with iodine or some other dye.  In order to do this a catheter is inserted into an artery in the groin or arm. The catheter is then pushed toward the blood vessels in and around the heart by a fluoroscope, which is a special x ray instrument. The complication my dad experienced is known as an ischemia. An ischemia is the inadequate blood supply to an organ or part of the body.

After further research I found out that more severe cases of ischemia as a result of an angiogram have occurred and require angioplasty or amputation. Studies have shown that thrombosis, or the formation of a clot in the blood vessel can occur during the procedure. It usually occurs only when the catheter is inserted into the arm. This leads me to believe that a different design of catheter may be able to lessen the chances of this complication occurring.