An angiogram uses X-rays and a special dye (contrast) to take pictures of the arteries in your brain, heart, and kidneys.
The dye is injected into a small tube or catheter into an artery in your groin or (sometimes) your arm. The small tube is inserted after an injection of local anaesthetic around the artery. Sometimes intravenous sedation is given. After the dye is injected, pictures are taken using an X-ray machine.
Benefits associated with an angiogram
- Used for diagnosis to show very detailed pictures of the arteries inside your brain, heart and kidneys
- Can be used to show blockages in your arteries
Risks associated with an angiogram
Your doctor knows the risks of having an angiogram. Your doctor will consider the risks before recommending you to have an angiogram. Possible risks are:
- Often not recommended in early pregnancy
- Small amount of radiation. The amount of radiation you are exposed to depends on the number of pictures taken and the part of the body being examined
- Extremely small chance you could develop cancer in the long term from the radiation
- If you are taking some medications. These include anticoagulants (blood thinning medications) and diabetic medication
- If you have a known kidney disease
- An allergic reaction from the dye. You may have nausea, sneezing, vomiting, itching, hives and dizziness. More serious reactions can occur, but are very rare
- Infection, bleeding or injury at the site of an injection
- Blood clot in the wall of the blood vessel or a weakness of the blood vessel wall that may need treatment
If you are at all concerned regarding the risks, talk to your doctor before the examination.
Preparation for an angiogram
You will usually be admitted to hospital as a day patient for this procedure.
- Bring your referral letter or request form and all X-rays taken in the last 2 years with you
- Leave the X-rays with the radiology staff as the doctor may need to look at them. The radiology staff will tell you when these are ready to be picked up
- Wear comfortable, loose clothing
- Leave all jewellery and valuables at home
- You may be asked not to eat for four hours before the angiogram
- You will be allowed to drink clear fluids such as black tea, coffee, clear soup or water during the four hours before the Angiogram. It is important for your kidneys to have fluids