A special X-ray that examines blood flow in an artery or vein
Expert Heart & Vascular Care
Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our heart or vascular specialists.
Your doctor may recommend an angiogram to detect blockages or bulging, weak areas (aneurysms) in a blood vessel. The test is done using X-rays taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter.
Our team provide internationally recognized expertise in angiography through the Cardiovascular Core Laboratories, which provides input to researchers planning clinical trials to ensure imaging requirements for each trial are appropriate and the most effective.
Angiograms can look at blood vessels anywhere in the body, including the:
- Arms and legs (peripheral angiogram)
- Brain (cerebral angiogram)
- Head and neck (carotid angiogram)
- Heart (coronary angiogram)
- Lungs (pulmonary angiogram)
Two other options may be available: computed tomography angiogram (CT angiogram) and magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA). These tests are less invasive than a conventional angiogram, as they don’t require a catheter. While dye may still be needed, it can be injected through an IV in the hand or arm.
What to expect from an angiogram
You’ll lie on your back on an X-ray table and be given a light sedative to help you relax. A small amount of hair may be shaved where the catheter will be inserted, and the area will be numbed with an injection of a local anesthetic.
Your doctor will insert the catheter into a blood vessel in the groin or arm. They will guide it to the area to be examined and inject an iodine dye. X-ray cameras will move around you to take pictures from many angles. The dye is easy to see on X-ray images, so your doctor can watch as it flows through the vessel and identify problem areas.
You shouldn’t feel the catheter moving through the body. You may feel a little warmth as the dye is injected, but it shouldn’t be uncomfortable or painful. The test should take about an hour, although it may take longer if your doctor detects a clogged blood vessel and decides to open it while the catheter is inserted. These procedures could include angioplasty or stent placement.
Afterward, you’ll need to lie flat for several hours to avoid bleeding and allow for observation. You’ll likely be able to go home the same day, but you should avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for several days.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm treatments include monitoring, medication or surgery to place a graft that reduces pressure on the walls of the aorta where the aneurysm exists.
Angioplasty improves blood flow through the arteries by clearing plaque buildup.
Several methods can be used to correct anomalous left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery (ALCAPA), in which the left coronary artery branches off from the pulmonary artery instead of the aorta.
Aortic root surgery is a complex procedure used to treat damage to the aorta and the aortic valve caused by an aortic root aneurysm.
Aortic surgery describes a variety of procedures to treat conditions that affect the aorta.
Aortic valve repair and replacement procedures include minimally invasive and traditional surgery as well as several types of replacement material.
Atherectomy is a minimally invasive procedure used to remove plaque from blocked arteries.
Carotid artery disease may be slowed or treated through lifestyle changes, medication, endarterectomy or angioplasty and stenting.
Carotid endarterectomy is the surgical removal of plaque that has built up within one of the large blood vessels in your neck that supply the brain with blood.
Coronary artery bypass surgery, also known as coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), restores normal blood flow through narrowed or blocked coronary arteries by using a healthy blood vessel taken from your leg, arm or chest to create a detour around the problem area.
Coronary artery stents are small mesh tubes placed within the artery to prevent blockages and allow better blood flow.
Surgical treatments for heart failure can include coronary bypass surgery, mechanical support devices and heart transplants.
Treatments for heart failure such as medications, surgery and mechanical devices vary based on the cause and severity of your condition.
A heart transplant replaces a diseased, failing heart with a healthier heart from a donor.
Iliac branch aneurysm repair is a minimally invasive treatment that involves smaller incisions, less pain and faster recovery than traditional open surgery.
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a device implanted below your collarbone that monitors your heart’s rhythm. When it detects an abnormal rhythm, it delivers an electrical impulse or shock to the heart to correct it.
Intestinal PAD treatment options include medication, minimally invasive procedures and surgery.
A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) helps the heart pump blood more effectively during end-stage heart failure.
During left ventricular reconstructive surgery, the left ventricle is reshaped to remove scar tissue caused by heart failure.
Limb salvage is a form of treatment our vascular surgeons use as an alternative to amputation for patients with severe peripheral artery disease, or PAD.
Peripheral artery disease treatments may include lifestyle changes, medication, and minimally invasive and surgical procedures to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.
Subcutaneous implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (S-ICD) deliver electrical shocks to regulate your heart during ventricular arrhythmias.
Stenting uses a mesh tube to open narrow blood vessels and improve blood flow.
Learn how MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute uses thoracic outlet decompression to treat thoracic outlet syndrome.
Thrombolysis, also known as thrombolytic therapy, is a treatment to dissolve or break up dangerous blood clots that can cause heart attacks, strokes and other conditions.
Transradial catheterization is a form of cardiac catheterization in which doctors use the radial artery, located in the wrist, to treat many heart and vascular conditions.
A ventricular assist device (VAD), also known as a mechanical circulatory support device, helps the heart pump blood more effectively during end-stage heart failure.
A vest that contains a device that monitors your heart and, if an abnormal heart rhythm is detected, delivers a shock to restore a normal heartbeat.