An angiography is a procedure used to examine the blood vessels. In this procedure, contrast dye is injected through a long, thin tube (catheter) into an artery. X-rays are then taken, which show if there is a blockage or problem in a blood vessel.

The catheter may be inserted in:

  • The groin area. This is the most common.

  • The fold of the arm, near the elbow.

  • The wrist.

Tell a healthcare provider about:

  • Any allergies you have, including allergies to medicines, shellfish, contrast dye, or iodine.

  • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal medicines, eye drops, creams and over-the-counter medicines.

  • Any problems you or family members have had with anaesthetics.

  • Any blood disorders you have.

  • Any surgeries you have had.

  • Any medical conditions you have or have had, including any kidney problems or kidney failure.

  • Whether you are pregnant or may be pregnant.

  • Whether you are breastfeeding.

What are the risks?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, problems may occur, including:

  • Infection.

  • Bleeding and bruising.

  • Allergic reactions to medicines or dyes, including the contrast dye used.

  • Damage to nearby structures or organs, including damage to blood vessels and kidney damage from the contrast dye.

  • Blood clots that can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

What happens before the procedure?

Staying hydrated

Follow instructions from your healthcare provider about hydration, which may include:

  • Up to 2 hours before the procedure – you may continue to drink clear liquids, such as water, clear fruit juice, and tea and coffee without milk or cream.

Eating and drinking restrictions

Follow instructions from your healthcare provider about eating and drinking, which may include:

  • 8 hours before the procedure – stop eating heavy meals or foods, such as meat, fried foods, or fatty foods.

  • 6 hours before the procedure – stop eating light meals or foods, such as toast or cereal.

  • 2 hours before the procedure – stop drinking clear liquids.


Ask your healthcare provider about:

  • Changing or stopping your regular medicines. This is especially important if you are taking diabetes medicines or blood thinners.

  • Taking medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These medicines can thin your blood. Do not take these medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to take them.

  • Taking over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbal medicines, and supplements.

Surgery safety

Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How your insertion site will be marked.

  • What steps will be taken to help prevent infection. These may include:

    • Removing hair at the insertion site.

    • Washing skin with an antibacterial soap.

    • Taking antibiotics.

General instructions

  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco for at least 4 weeks before the procedure. These products include cigarettes, e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco. If you need help quitting, ask your healthcare provider.

  • You may have blood samples taken.

  • Plan to have someone take you home from the hospital or clinic.

  • If you will be going home right after the procedure, plan to have someone with you for 24 hours.

What happens during the procedure?

  • You will lie on your back on an X-ray table. You may be strapped to the table if it is tilted.

  • An IV tube will be inserted into one of your veins.

  • Electrodes may be placed on your chest to monitor your heart rate during the procedure.

  • You will be given one or both of the following:

    • A medicine to help you relax (sedative).

    • A medicine to numb the area where the catheter will be inserted (local anaesthetic).

  • A small incision will be made for catheter insertion.

  • The catheter will be inserted into an artery using a guide wire. An X-ray procedure (fluoroscopy) will be used to help guide the catheter to the blood vessel to be examined.

  • A contrast dye will then be injected into the catheter, and X-rays will be taken. The contrast will help to show where any narrowing or blockages are located in the blood vessels. You may feel flushed as the contrast dye is injected.

  • Tell your healthcare provider if you develop chest pain or trouble breathing.

  • After the fluoroscopy is complete, the catheter will be removed.

  • A bandage (dressing) will be placed over the site where the catheter was inserted. Pressure will be applied to stop bleeding.

  • The IV tube will be removed.

The procedure may vary among healthcare providers and hospitals.

What happens after the procedure?

  • Your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen level will be monitored until you leave the hospital or clinic.

  • You will be kept in bed lying flat for 6 hours. If the catheter was inserted through your leg, you will be instructed not to bend or cross your legs.

  • The insertion area and the pulse in your feet or wrist will be checked frequently.

  • You will be instructed to drink plenty of fluids. This will help wash the contrast dye out of your body.

  • You may have more blood tests and X-rays. You may also have a test that records the electrical activity of your heart (electrocardiogram, or ECG).

  • Do not drive for 24 hours if you were given a sedative during your procedure.

  • It may be up to you to get the results of the procedure. Ask your healthcare provider, or the department that is doing the procedure, when your results will be ready.


  • An angiography is a procedure used to examine the blood vessels.

  • Before the procedure, follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about eating and drinking restrictions. You may be asked to stop eating and drinking several hours before the procedure.

  • During the procedure, contrast dye is injected through a thin tube (catheter) into an artery. X-rays are then taken.

  • After the procedure, you will need to drink plenty of fluids and lie flat for 6 hours.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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