Angiography is the imaging of blood vessels, veins and arteries using X-rays and a contrast agent (dye).
Contrast is injected into the bloodstream and shows up on live X-rays. This enables doctors to diagnose vessel narrowing, blockages or other abnormalities, informing treatment options.
How do I prepare for an angiogram?
Please follow any guidelines provided by your doctor prior to the procedure. Guidelines will usually require you to:
- fast (go without food and drink) for 4-6 hours
- arrive at the hospital at the scheduled time for admission
- inform staff of any allergies or kidney disease
- information staff of any medications you are taking
On the day of your appointment
Please bring a list of any current medications you are taking, along with any relevant imaging (X-rays, ultrasounds).
What is involved in an angiogram?
During the angiogram, you will lie on an angiogram table attached to an X-ray machine that moves around you. Staff will closely monitor your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels.
During the procedure, you will either be awake or under light sedation, depending on the doctor's instructions. This will be discussed with the doctor performing the angiogram prior to the examination. If you are awake, you will be on oxygen and may be asked to hold your breath at various stages.
An antiseptic wash will be applied to the access site (usually the groin or arm), which will be covered with a sterile drape. From this point, it is important to remain still to ensure that the operating area remains clean.
The doctor will inject a local anaesthetic into the access site. This will sting but afterwards, you shouldn't feel any pain. Once the area is numb, the doctor will insert a needle - then feed a catheter (thin plastic tube) - into your blood vessel. A contrast agent (dye) will be injected via the tube to accentuate your blood vessels on the images.
If the doctor detects any abnormalities, they may proceed with treatment, however, this will be discussed with you prior to, and during, your procedure.
What types of interventions might follow an angiogram?
- Interventions for cancer patients
- Interventional radiology in paediatrics
- Laser therapy for varicose veins
- Renal denervation for difficult-to-control blood pressure
- Specialised ultrasound techniques to diagnose and monitor chronic liver disease
- Treatment of brain aneurysms and other vascular conditions of the brain
- Treatment of vascular anomalies
- Vascular access
- Women's health, especially fibroids
What are the risks and side effects of an angiogram?
All procedures, even with the highest standards of practice, carry risks. Most complications associated with angiograms are minor and temporary, however, in very rare circumstances some may be permanent and life-threatening. Your doctor will discuss potential risks and side effects with you before your angiogram.
How long does an angiogram take?
An angiogram usually takes 1 to 2 hours, depending on the area being imaged.
Angiogram results are instantly visible to the performing doctor and will be discussed with you during or after the procedure.