(Catheter Angiography; Arteriography; Angiogram)


An angiography is an x-ray exam of the blood vessels. Contrast matter is placed in the blood vessels to make them easier to see.


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Reasons for Procedure

Angiography may be done to:

  • Find blood vessels that are narrowed, enlarged, or blocked
  • Look for blood that may be leaking from the blood vessels to another part of the body
  • Fix blocked blood vessels—may not be done in all cases

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will review potential problems such as:

  • Allergic reaction to the chemical used
  • Abnormal heartbeats, called arrhythmias
  • Bleeding where the catheter was placed
  • Damage to blood vessels—this can lead to organ and tissue damage
  • Kidney damage from contrast matter
  • Infection
  • Stroke

The risk of complications is higher for:

  • Kidney problems
  • Diabetes
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Allergies—mainly to contrast matter, iodine, or medicine

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Before the test, your doctor may:

  • Ask about your health past
  • Give you a physical exam
  • Do blood tests
  • Ask you to stop taking certain medicine

Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure.


Local anesthesia is used to numb the catheter site. A sedative may also be given to help you relax.

Description of the Procedure

The catheter site will be cleaned. The catheter is placed into the artery through a small cut in the groin, upper thigh, arm, or neck. It is threaded up to the area that needs to be checked. Contrast matter is placed into the catheter. This makes the blood vessels easier to see on the TV screen. The catheter is taken out after a series of x-rays are taken. Pressure will be applied to the site for 10 minutes. A bandage will be placed over the site.

How Long Will It Take?

Less than an hour. It can take many hours if the doctor decides to fix any problems at the same time.

How Much Will It Hurt?

It is not painful, but you may feel:

  • A brief sting when the anesthesia is injected
  • Pressure when the catheter is placed into the cut and artery
  • Hot and flushed when the contrast matter is added to the catheter

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

Right after the procedure the care team will have you:

  • Lie flat. How long will depend on why you had the test.
  • Try to drink fluids to flush out the contrast matter.

Let your care team know if you have swelling, bleeding, bruising, or pain at the catheter site.

The length of stay depends on why you needed the test and your overall health.

At Home

You will need to care for the catheter site. Your care team will teach you how to do this.


The doctor will talk to you about the results. You may need further testing or treatment.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if any of these happen:

  • Signs of infection such as fever or chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the site
  • Extreme sweating, nausea, or vomiting
  • Extreme pain
  • Extreme chest pain
  • Leg or arm feels cold, turns white or blue, or becomes numb or tingly
  • Trouble breathing
  • Problems speaking or seeing
  • Weakness in the face

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


American Heart Association
Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America


The College of Family Physicians of Canada


Angiogram. Society for Vascular Surgery website. Available at: Accessed March 21, 2018.
Catheter angiography. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: Updated January 20, 2018. Accessed March 21, 2018.
Coronary angiography. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: Accessed March 21, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 3/21/2019

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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