Angiography is a type of xray that is done to image blood vessels in various parts of the body, including the heart, brain and kidneys, so as to determine whether the vessels are diseased, narrowed, enlarged or blocked altogether. After passing a catheter through an artery leading to the body area of interest, contrast material is injected to highlight the vessels when x-rays are taken. Today, many catheter angiographic studies have been replaced by less invasive methods, such as computed tomography (CT) angiography and magnetic resonance (MR) angiography that do not require a catheter be inserted. Catheter angiography still is widely used in patients who may undergo surgery, angioplasty or stent placement.

Common reasons to do catheter angiography are to detect narrowing or blockage of a blood vessel, identify abnormally dilated blood vessels, and to determine the site of internal bleeding. The procedure is able to:

  • Show atherosclerotic disease in the arteries of the neck, which may limit blood flow to the brain and even cause a stroke.
  • Demonstrate an intracranial aneurysm or other disorders of the blood vessels in the brain.
  • Indicate disease in the renal artery causing hypertension or help prepare for a kidney transplant.
  • Determine the state of the aorta and detect an aneurysm of this vessel.
  • Demonstrate a source of bleeding, such as a stomach ulcer.
  • Help prepare for surgery on diseased blood vessels in the legs of patients who have severe leg pain when walking.
  • Surgeons sometimes use angiography to plan an operation or to decide on the best surgical procedure. Using catheter angiography as an aid to see inside blood vessels, interventional radiologists can repair diseased vessels from within using tiny instruments to keep the vessel open.

For more information on the procedure visit (Angiography).