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Detection & Diagnosis: Acting early on vascular conditions
Omar P. Haqqani, MD
Midland Daily News
March 26, 2017
You can never be too confident when it comes to vascular disease.
Throwing caution to the wind is never wise in cases of suspected vascular conditions, as many diseases, if left unchecked, can result in serious health complications, and, in some circumstances, even death.
Fortunately, for many of the most common diseases affecting the vascular system, many have methods for testing and diagnosing early signs of vascular conditions. Though all done through different means, all have been proven to help in pinpointing where the conditions occur, as well as how severe the effects are.
For example, ultrasound is among the most universal of methods for detecting vascular disease.
Using sound waves with an inaudible frequency, an ultrasound is able to take live video and capture images, allowing for an internal view of specific areas, helping to depict abnormalities caused by vascular conditions.
As a common, painless procedure, ultrasounds are becoming increasingly popular, being used to diagnose abdominal aortic aneurysm, stroke, mesenteric ischemia, renal artery stenosis, and deep vein thrombosis.
Computerized tomography (CT) scan is also used frequently as a method of diagnosis.
Using a combination of X-ray imaging, taken from multiple angles, and computer processing to create a cross-sectional look at the area, CT scan is able to provide a look at nearly any part of the body to help identify a suspected condition.
While normal x-ray imaging can be used when a less detailed method of diagnosis will suffice, a CT scan is the preferred method for this type of technology for numerous conditions, including May-Thurner syndrome and both abdominal and thoracic aortic aneurysms.
Another universally recognized method of diagnosis is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Through this method, a magnetic field is used to send pulses comprised of radio wave energy, allowing for a look at the body’s organs and structures from developed pictures.
In a similar test, magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) is specifically used to gain an internal view of the blood vessels in cases of suspected stroke.
While angiography is considered to be the study of blood and lymph vessels, an angiogram is the result of this technology, produced through means of an injected dye and camera in a process known as fluoroscopy.
Through this process, an angiogram is able to show blood flow, and can come in many different variations. An arteriogram is one of these variations, and focuses specifically on arterial blood flow to certain organs or areas.
A venogram works similarly, though the major difference is that a venogram showcases the way unoxygenated blood flows back through veins. If flowing improperly, this could mean the early development of a deep vein thrombosis, where an improper clot forms in one of the leg’s deep vein systems.
For instance, a carotid arteriogram examines the blood supply heading from the heart to the brain, and a renal arteriogram analyzes blood flow from the heart to the kidneys.
In certain vascular conditions, blood tests are required to confirm the correct diagnosis. In cases of mesenteric ischemia, for example, a blood sample with a higher than average white cell count is often a suggestion of intestinal ischemia.
D-dimer blood tests, however, work differently, as their main focus is to rule out if improper blood clotting is a present symptom, which, in turn, would eliminate the threat of pulmonary embolism, the movement of an improper blood clot.
Though there are many different types of diagnostic tests used by specialists to help aid in pinpointing any major vascular disease, the tests stated above are among the most prominently used in both location and analysis of severity.
The threat of a vascular condition in the body, especially when not knowing what the potential risk could be, is understandably overwhelming. However, thanks to advances in diagnostic technology, early detection of disease has never been made more convenient for patients.
Log on to vascularhealthclinics.org for more information about the numerous tests available for diagnosing vascular conditions.
Dr. Omar P. Haqqani is the chief of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Vascular Health Clinics in Midland.
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