Show Side Menu

Angiography

Angiography is a type of X-ray used to examine the blood vessels. Find out why it's used, what it involves and what the possible risks are.

Angiography is a type of X-ray used to check the blood vessels.

Blood vessels don't show up clearly on a normal X-ray, so a special dye needs to be injected into your blood first.

This highlights your blood vessels, allowing your doctor to spot any problems.

The X-ray images created during angiography are called "angiograms".

This page covers:

Why angiograms are used

What happens

Risks and complications

Types of angiogram

Why angiograms are used

Angiography is used to check the health of your blood vessels and how blood flows through them.

It can be used to help diagnose or investigate a number of problems affecting the blood vessels, including:

Angiography may also be used to help plan treatment for some of these conditions.

What happens during angiography

Angiography is carried out in a hospital X-ray or radiology department.

For the test:

  • you'll usually be awake, but may be given a medication called a sedative to help you relax
  • you lie down on a table and a small cut is made over one of your arteries, usually near your groin or wrist – local anaesthetic is used to numb the area where the cut is made
  • a very thin flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into the artery
  • the catheter is carefully guided to the area that's being examined (such as the heart)
  • a dye (contrast medium) is injected into the catheter
  • a series of X-rays are taken as the dye flows through your blood vessels

The test can take between 30 minutes and two hours. You'll usually be able to go home a few hours afterwards.

Read more about what happens before, during and after angiography.

Risks of an angiogram

Angiography is generally a safe and painless procedure.

But for a few days or weeks afterwards it's common to have:

  • bruising
  • soreness
  • a very small lump or collection of blood near where the cut was made

There is also a very small risk of more serious complications occurring, such as an allergic reaction to the dye, a stroke or a heart attack.

Read more about the risks of angiography.

Types of angiogram

There are several different types of angiogram, depending on which part of the body is being looked at.

Common types include:

  • coronary angiography – to check the heart and nearby blood vessels
  • cerebral angiography – to check the blood vessels in and around the brain
  • pulmonary angiography – to check the blood vessels supplying the lungs
  • renal angiography – to check the blood vessels supplying the kidneys

Occasionally angiography may be carried out using scans rather than X-rays. These are called computerised tomography (CT) angiography or magnetic resonance (MR) angiography.

There is also a type of angiography used to check the eyes called a fluorescein angiogram. This is different to the angiograms mentioned above and isn't covered in this topic.

Your Neighbourhood Professionals Need care but want to stay in your own home? Royal Arsenal Psychological Services Dr Anindita Sarkar Temple Pharmacy Ltd
© Neighbourhood Direct Ltd 2017
Plumstead Health Centre - Tewson Road, Plumstead, SE18 1BH
  • Telephone 0208 316 5472
Garland Road Clinic - 2 Garland Road, Plumstead, SE18 2AE
  • Telephone 0208 305 7600
Practice Website supplied by Oldroyd Publishing Group
Your Neighbourhood Professionals Need care but want to stay in your own home? Royal Arsenal Psychological Services Dr Anindita Sarkar Temple Pharmacy Ltd
Back to top