What do you need to know about Angiofluorography?
Angiofluorography is a diagnosis procedure that uses a special camera to record blood flow in the retina. Ophthalmic fluorescein angiography is an important clinical procedure used to investigate and document the condition of the retinal and choroidal vascular systems. Administered intravenously and followed by rapid sequence serial photography, the fluorescein dye produces an angiographic display that is used to visualize and document retinal blood flow dynamics while recording the integrity of the inner retinal barriers and fine details of the retinal pigment epithelium. It is an important diagnostic and research tool and has the added benefit of illustrating how the retina and choroid respond to disease. Higher visual resolution is possible with this diagnosis procedure than with others and it is a valuable adjuvant to stereoscopic fundus biomicroscopy and binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy. The procedure has additional utility in determining the feasibility of laser photocoagulation surgery for vascular, macular and retinal diseases.
Angiofluorography is often recommended to follow the progression of a disease and to monitor the results of treatment. It is particularly useful in the management of diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.
What does Angiofluorography involve?
The actual procedure will take 10-20 minutes. The average length of stay in our office can be 1-2 hours. Your medical history will be reviewed by a nurse prior to the test.
The test does not involve any direct eye contact. Your eyes will be dilated prior to the procedure. The fluorescein substance is injected into a vein in your arm. As the substance passes through the blood vessels of the eye, pictures are taken to record blood flow in the retina. The photos may reveal abnormal blood vessels or damage to the lining under the retina. The images will be captured in black and white and the fluorescent substance in the blood vessels will be recorded as a light grey or white image. Interpretation of the result is based on identifying areas that show hypofluorescence (darkness) or hyperfluorescence (brightness).
Some people may experience mild nausea during the procedure. The feeling passes within a few seconds. Allergic reactions to the dye are rare. If they occur, they can cause rashes and itching. This reaction is treated with antihistamines. Severe allergic reactions are extremely rare. After the pupils are dilated, your vision may become blurred.
The most common reaction is nausea and vomiting. You may also experience dry mouth or increased salivation, increased heart rate and sneezing. In rare cases, you may have a serious allergic reaction, which can include swelling of the larynx, hives, difficulty breathing, fainting or even cardiac arrest.
If you are pregnant or think you might be, you should avoid a fluorescein angiogram. The risks to an unborn fetus are not known.
What diseases can be diagnosed by Angiofluorography?
Your doctor may recommend an angiofluorography to determine if the blood vessels in the back of your eye are receiving adequate blood flow. It can also be used to diagnose eye disorders such as macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy.
Macular degeneration occurs in the macula, which is the central part of the eye that allows you to focus on fine details. Sometimes the disorder worsens so slowly that you may not notice any change at all. In some people, this causes vision to deteriorate rapidly and blindness can occur in both eyes.
Because the disease destroys your central focused vision, it prevents you from:
- see objects clearly
- watch TV
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by long-term diabetes and results in permanent damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye or retina. The retina converts images and light entering the eye into signals, which are then transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve.
There are two types of this disorder:
- non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy, which occurs in the early stages of the disease
- proliferative diabetic retinopathy, which develops later and is more severe
Your doctor may also recommend fluorescein angiography to determine if treatments for these eye disorders are working.