Angiography is atype of X-ray used to check theblood 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 arecalled "angiograms".

This page covers:

Why angiograms are used

What happens

Risks and complications

Types of angiogram

Why angiograms are used

Angiographyis used tocheck 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:

  • atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), which could mean you're at risk of having a stroke or heart attack
  • peripheral arterial disease (reduced blood supply to the leg muscles)
  • a brain aneurysm (a bulge in a blood vessel in your brain)
  • angina (chest pain that occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscle is restricted)
  • blood clots or a pulmonary embolism (a blockage in the artery supplyingyour lungs)
  • a blockage in the blood supply to your kidneys

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

What happens during angiography

Angiography is carried out ina hospitalX-ray or radiology department.

For the test:

  • you'll usuallybe awake, but may be given a medication called a sedative to help you relax
  • you lie down on a table and asmall cut is made over one of your arteries, usually near your groin or wrist local anaesthetic is used tonumb 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 testcan take between 30 minutes and two hours. You'll usually be able to go home a few hours afterwards.

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.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 20 Jan 2017