People who suffer from diabetes or other kidney problems in addition to cardiovascular disease have a new, safer option for cardiovascular imaging studies thanks to an innovative technology being used by doctors at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. These special angiograms use carbon dioxide in the place of traditional iodinated contrast, or dye, which can greatly reduce the impact of the scan on patients’ kidneys.

Tulane interventional radiologists partner with cardiologists to perform the procedure, which provide images of blockages in the patient’s circulatory system. As opposed to the usual contract, CO2 is naturally produced in the body. The procedure uses it to highlight the blood vessels and any blockages. The carbon dioxide is then dissolved in the blood and eliminated through the patient’s lungs.

With an aging population and an increase in diabetes rates, it is estimated that 27 million people in North America and Europe suffer from atherosclerosclerotic peripheral arterial disease. Approximately one third of these patients also suffer from diabetes and chronic kidney and heart disease. This places these patients at increased risk for kidney damage when traditional angiography and vascular intervention are necessary, and using carbon dioxide angiography greatly reduces that risk.

Tulane physicians are among the first in the region to offer this technology, which is especially beneficial to organ transplant patients of the Tulane Transplant Institute. With the largest group of CO2-trained physicians in the state, our doctors are often successful in preventing amputations and other complications associated with chronic diabetes and kidney issues. This technology helps prevent complications and allows angiograms and other procedures for patients who were previously unable to receive them.

Traditional angiograms using contrast may be the best option for some patients. Please discuss your options with your doctor.

For more information about carbon dioxide angiography, please visit CO2 Angiography Society.