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Angiography - Treatment, Procedure And Side Effects

Last Updated: Nov 01, 2021

What is an angiography?

An angiography, also known as an angiogram, is an X-Ray test that makes use of a dye along with a camera in order to take clear pictures of the circulation of blood inside a vein or an artery. This procedure can be performed for the veins or the arteries of the chest, back, arms, head, belly and the legs.

The most common angiograms include pulmonary angiogram (of the chest), coronary angiogram (of the heart), cerebral angiogram (of the brain), carotid angiogram (of the neck and the head), peripheral angiogram (of the arms and legs) and aortogram (of the aorta).

An angiogram is used to detect aneurysms (bulge within the blood vessels). Any blockage or narrowing of the blood vessels that affect proper blood flow can also be detected by this procedure. The possibility of a coronary artery disorder being present, as well as its condition, can be determined by this technique.

What are the types of angiography?


These are the types of angiography:

  • Computed tomography angiography: In this, a CT scanner is used to get the detailed condition of the blood vessels. In this doctors also uses X-ray catheters, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Coronary angiography: In this special dye is used and X-ray is done to see how the blood is flowing through the arteries present in your heart.
  • Digital subtraction angiography: It is a fluoroscopy technique in which the use of interventional radiology is done in order to get clear visualization in the boney or dense tissues.
  • Magnetic resonance angiography: In this, your body scan is done with the help of radio waves, magnetic fields and computer to take a proper view of the body's blood vessels.
  • Pulmonary angiogram: In this, the blood vessels of the lungs are checked and a dye is used for getting a clear view.
  • Radionuclide Angiogram: This is the kind of nuclear medicine procedure. This is done for examining the tissues properly.
  • Renal angiogram: This is a kind of image testing in which kidney vessels are looked into.

How is an angiogram performed?

  • Computed tomography angiography:

    At first, a dye will be injected into your nerves through IV. Then you will be told to lie down straight. You will also be told to hold your breath for a short period of time in order to get the proper pictures. The images will be examined by the doctor and then the further procedure will be done.

  • Coronary angiography:

    This is done under the expert supervision in a specific laboratory and it is done with the cardiac catheterization procedure. A small is made by the doctor in the blood vessel of the arm, upper thigh or groin and a catheter tube are inserted into the blood vessel. After this X-ray picture by the doctor will be taken which helps in the placement of the catheter in your coronary artery. After which a dye will be inserted through that artery in order to highlight the blockage and then X-ray is taken to go for further treatment.

  • Digital subtraction angiography:

    In this, a catheter is inserted into the veins artery of the leg, and then it is passed into the blood vessel. After this contrast dye is injected into the catheter to get a proper image of the blood vessels.

  • Magnetic resonance angiography:

    In this, you are made to lie then and then pass through a magnetic resonance image scanner which a large tube-like tunnel. Sometimes a special kind of dye is injected in the bloodstream to get a clear view of the veins and blood vessels.

  • Pulmonary angiogram:

    In this dye is injected in your blood vessels through your arm or groin. Dye helps in getting a clear X-ray thus enable your doctor to have a clear view of blood vessels from the lungs.

  • Radionuclide Angiogram:

    In this radionuclide is injected in the arm vein to see the progress of the blood cells and the heart is traced through the scanner. This RNA procedure helps the doctor check the functioning of the heart.

  • Renal angiogram:

    In this image testing of the blood vessels of the kidney is done. AN x-ray is done by injecting a special dye into the blood vessels.

When angiography is needed?

If there is any serious issue with the coronary artery or the coronary artery is blocked then there is the need of angiography to see what is the exact problem. The doctors check the patient and prescribe for the exact angiography which needs to be done.

What dye is used for an angiogram?

The fluorescent dye is used for an angiogram which is injected into the blood as it helps in highlighting the blood vessels which are present at the back of the eye thus it becomes easier to take a photograph of them.

Is the Angiography test painful?

Angiography is done to detect any blockage due to fat deposition in coronary arteries. It is conventionally done by injecting a local anesthetic agent in one’s wrist using a needle, thereafter a small incision is made and the catheter is inserted. In most cases, it is not painful, otherwise, pain relief is provided and a sedative may be given to overcome the nervousness.

What happens after an angiogram?

An angiogram is the images or readings that are obtained from Angiography. It is a diagnostic procedure based on which the treatment plan is decided. Along with the symptoms and location of the problem, the severity of the disease is also stated by an angiogram. It is reviewed either during or after the procedure by a doctor which enables them to take several important decisions related to the disease.

What are angiography and angioplasty?

Angiography: It is an imaging technique is used for the visualization of blood vessels, organs of the body, and particularly arteries, veins, and the heart chambers.

Angioplasty: This is done to restore the procedure of blood flow through the artery. In this, the blood vessels of the heart are checked if it is blocked or not. This procedure is basically done to restore the blood flow through the artery.

What's the difference between angiogram and Angiography?

While Angiography is the medical procedure that examines the arteries of any blockage during blood circulation, an angiogram is the record of the images and readings that are obtained as a result of Angiography. However both are related to the blood vessels of the heart, one is the outcome of the other, we can say.


How serious is an angiogram?

An angiogram provides detailed X-ray pictures of the heart and its blood vessels. Based on it, important decisions regarding our health are taken by the doctor. In case of minor blockages, lifestyle modifications and medications are recommended while in major blockages, depending on the severity, Balloon angioplasty and Stenting or Bypass surgery need to be done to open the blockages.

Are there any side effects?

Similar to any other procedure performed on the blood vessels and the heart, a coronary angiogram or other angiograms as well have their share of risks and complications. Though major risks are less, certain potential complications include:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attacks
  • Any injury to the arteries, especially the artery that has been catheterized
  • Arrhythmias (irregular heart-beats)
  • Allergies caused due to the dye or other medications used during the procedure
  • Damage to the kidneys
  • Persistent bleeding
  • Infections

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Keeping the patient under observation to monitor the person’s temperature, blood pressure, feeling of nausea and most importantly the proper functioning of the body.

How long does it take to recover?

You should take adequate rest and avoid any sort of strenuous activity for 24 hours post-angiogram, following which you can start with your daily routine. However, if your doctor has advised otherwise, you should follow it to recover completely and quickly.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The price of angiography or an angiogram in India typically ranges between Rs.6000- Rs.55,000.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

An angiography is a testing procedure that makes use of a dye along with a camera to check for defects in the arteries or the veins. It isn’t a surgical procedure. It only lays down the platform for angioplasty which, in turn, is the surgery that is performed. Hence, there are no results as such associated with angiography.

What happens if an angiogram shows blockage?

By providing detailed x-ray pictures of the heart, an angiogram enables us to detect any blockages in the coronary arteries which in turn help to make important decisions regarding the blockages. Balloon angioplasty and stenting are coronary interventional procedures that restore the blood flow to the heart. A surgical method i.e ‘’Coronary bypass surgery’’ can also be preferred which does the same.

What are the precautions to be taken before angiography?

These are the precautions which need to be taken before angiography:

  • Do not eat or drink before going for the angiography.
  • Do not take any medication before angiography without consulting your doctor.
  • If you are diabetic then you must consult the doctor before taking insulin.
  • Empty your bladder before going for the final procedure.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

An angiogram or angiography is usually recommended by the doctor only if other less invasive testing techniques have been exhausted or haven’t been able to come up with concrete results. Certain less invasive alternatives include a heart stress test, ECG (Electrocardiography), and echocardiography.

Summary: Angiography is a medical procedure that is done to detect any blockage due to fat deposition in coronary arteries. It provides detailed X-ray pictures of the heart and its blood vessels. Based on it, important decisions regarding our health are taken by the doctor. In case of minor blockages, lifestyle modifications and medications are recommended while in major blockages, depending on the severity, Balloon angioplasty and Stenting or Bypass surgery need to be done to open the blockages.


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Written ByDr. Rahul Gupta MD - Internal Medicine,MBBS,DM - Cardiology,Fellow European Society of CardiologyCardiology
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