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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
Risks and complications
Types of angiogram
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.
Angiography is carried out in a hospital X-ray or radiology department.
For the test:
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 .
Angiography is generally a safe and painless procedure.
But for a few days or weeks afterwards it's common to have:
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 .
There are several different types of angiogram, depending on which part of the body is being looked at.
Common types include:
Occasionally angiography may be carried out using scans rather than X-rays. These are called computerised tomography (CT)](/condition/ct-scan) 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.
Angiography is carried out in a hospital X-ray or radiology department. It normally takes between 30 minutes and two hours, and you can usually go home the same day.
This page covers:
Before having an angiogram, you may be asked to attend a hospital appointment to check that you can have the test.
This may involve:
If you choose to have a sedative, you'll be asked not to eat for a few hours before the test.
You'll also need to arrange for someone to pick you up from the hospital, as you won't be able to drive yourself home.
You'll usually be awake for an angiogram, although general anaesthetic (where you're asleep) may be used for young children.
For the test:
Sometimes treatment may be carried at the same time, such as inserting a balloon or a small tube to open up a narrowed artery. This is known as angioplasty .
Once the procedure is finished, the catheter is removed and pressure is placed on the cut to stop any bleeding. Stitches aren't needed.
After the test, you'll be taken to a recovery ward where you'll be asked to lie still for a few hours to prevent bleeding from the cut.
You'll usually be able to go home the same day, although sometimes you may need to stay in hospital overnight.
It may be possible to tell you the results of the test before you go home, but often the X-rays need to be studied in detail and the results are not available for a few weeks.
While recovering at home:
You will probably have some bruising and soreness for at least a few days.
Angiography is generally a very safe procedure, although minor side effects are common and there's a small risk of serious complications.
The test will only be done if the benefits of having the procedure are felt to outweigh any potential risk.
Speak to your doctor about the risks involved with having an angiogram.
After an angiogram, many people have:
These problems should improve in a few days or weeks and aren't usually anything to worry about.
You can take painkillers such as paracetamol for any discomfort if you need to.
Most people who have an angiogram won't experience any complications, but there is a small chance of minor or serious complications occurring.
Possible minor complications include:
Possible serious complications include:
These serious complications are very rare. For example, an estimated 1 in 1,000 people will have a stroke, and approximately 1 in 50,000 to 150,000 people will develop anaphylaxis.
Contact your doctor or the hospital for advice if:
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.