Diagnostic Angiography

Service Overview

What is angiography?

Performed at one of our area hospitals, Angiography is an X-ray examination of the arteries and veins to diagnose blockages and other blood vessel problems. During the angiogram, the interventional radiologist inserts a thin tube (catheter) into one of your arteries through a very small incision in the skin, about the size of a pencil tip. Contrast (X-ray dye) is then injected into the artery while X-rays are taken of the area. The angiogram helps your physician plan the best treatment for you.

Why do I need an angiogram?

One of the most common reasons for an angiogram is to find out if a blocked artery is causing your symptoms. For example, a blocked artery in the leg may cause pain in your leg when you walk; in the kidney may cause high blood pressure; and in the brain may cause vision problems and weakness.

An angiogram can determine exactly where the artery is obstructed, how severe the blockage is, and what is causing it. The two most common causes of blocked arteries are a blood clot in the artery and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries by a build up of plaque).

Another common reason for an angiogram is to see if you have an aneurysm, which is an area of an artery that has ballooned out. Although other medical tests, such as physical examination, ultrasound, computer tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance (MR) can detect an aneurysm, an angiogram may be necessary to see it in detail and to plan treatment.

What happens after my angiogram?

The Interventional Radiologist will study the X-Ray images and discuss the results with you, any family you would like included, and your other doctors. Together you will work to create a treatment plan.

If you are returning home on the day of your angiogram, you will stay in the hospital for four to six hours after the angiogram is completed. After this observation period you will be allowed to go home and will be provided with discharge instructions. To ensure your safety, have someone drive you home after your procedure.

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Medication Instructions for Diagnostic Angiography

  • Most people can continue to take their prescribed medications.
  • If you are a diabetic and take insulin, ask your doctor about modifying your insulin dose for the day of your procedure. If you are taking the oral anti-diabetic medicine Glucophage (Metformin), Plavix, or Lovenox, you may need to discontinue use for up to 48 hours following the procedure. Consult with your doctor about blood sugar control during this period.
  • If you take a blood thinner such as Aspirin, Coumadin, Plavix, or Lovenox, you must tell your doctor so that it can be stopped. If you do not know if your medications are blood thinners, please consult your physician at least one week prior to your exam.
  • Please bring a list of your current medications and dosages on the day of your exam.


Do not eat or drink after midnight on the night before your procedure. Do not smoke for at least 24 hours prior to your angiogram.

Allergic reactions

If you are allergic to contrast (X-Ray dye) or iodine, let your doctor know as soon as possible. If possible, let the interventional radiologist know about your allergy a few days before your angiogram.