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Digital subtraction angiography

  Digital Subtraction Angiography (DSA) is a technique used in interventional radiology to clearly visualize blood vessels in a bony or dense soft tissue environment. Images are produced using contrast medium by subtracting a 'pre-contrast image' or the mask from later images, once the contrast medium has been introduced into a structure. Hence the term 'digital subtraction angiography'.



DSA, is primarily used to image blood vessels. It is useful in the diagnosis and treatment of:

  • Arterial and venous occlusions, including carotid artery stenosis, pulmonary embolisms and acute limb ischaemia.
  • Arterial stenosis, which is particularly useful for potential renal donors in detecting renal artery stenosis.
  • Cerebral aneurysms and AVMs.

DSA and Fluoroscopy

In traditional angiography images are acquired by exposing an area of interst with time-controlled x-rays while injecting contrast medium into the blood vessels. The image obtained would also include all overlying structure besides the blood vessels in this area. This is useful for determining anatomical position and variations but unhelpful for visualising blood vessels accurately.

In order to remove these distracting structures to see the vessels better, first a mask image is acquired. The mask image is simply an image of the same area before the contrast is administered. The radiological equipment used to capture this is usallly an image intensifier, which will then keep producing images of the same area at a set rate (1 - 6 frames per second), taking all subsequent images away from the original 'mask' image. The radiologist controls how much contrast media is injected and for how long. Smaller structures require less contrast to fill the vessel than others. Images produced appear with a very pale grey background, which produces a high contrast to the blood vessels, which appear a very dark grey.

The images are all produced in real time by the computer, as the contrast is injected into the blood vessels.

The future

DSA is being used less and less routinely in imaging departments. It is being taken over by Computed Tomography Angiography, which can produce 3D images through a test which is less invasive and stressful for the patient.

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Digital_subtraction_angiography". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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