I hope someone out there can help clear up some confustion! My aunt went into the hospital a couple of days ago because she had chest pain! Yesterday they performed an angiogram and apparently nicked an artery or something during the procedure and had to do a double bypass which was extremely difficult because the dye turned the arteries to mush and half of her heart was dead. She died and they brought her back and she is on a ventalator and they are keeping her unconsious. The whole family is so confused by this information as no one is allowed to go an see her and no one understands what has happened. Apparently if she survives she wont be able to use her arms for months!! Is this common? Has anyone heard of this happening before? Did the dye cause her additional problems??
I am very sorry to hear of your aunt's illness. An angiogram is a test that is appropriate for someone complaining of chest pain if a heart attach is present or suspected. Although complications are uncommon, it is an invasive test, and they can occur. One complication which is quite rare is coronary artery dissection (when the lining of an artery tears). This may be what occurred in her case. In some instances, this is repaired with a bypass.
I'm not entirely clear what is meant by the dye affecting the artery. The dye which is injected during an angiogram is radiopaque - it outlines the artery on the x-ray which is also taken. The main adverse affects which occur with the dye are allergy (short-lived) and kidney failure. This usually occurs when the patient has pre-existing kidney problems.
There usually aren't any specific implications for the arms after either an angiogram or a bypass. It may be that either arteries or veins from the arms were used in the bypass, and this would mean that there are wounds which would take some weeks to heal, but use of her arms would still be possible.
It would be a good idea for the family to meet with the physician who is caring for her to get a clear idea of the situation. It is often helpful for the family to appoint a liaison person, through whom updates and information can be channelled, to ensure that communication is consistent and clear. I do hope she gets well.
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