An arteriogram is an imaging test that uses x-rays and a special dye to see inside the arteries. It can be used to view arteries in the heart, brain, kidney, and other parts of the body.
The procedure is often called angiography.
Related tests include:
- Aortic angiography (chest or abdomen)
- Cerebral angiography (brain)
- Coronary angiography (heart)
- Extremity arteriography (legs or arms)
- Fluorescein angiography (eyes)
- Pulmonary angiography (lungs)
- Renal arteriography (kidneys)
How the Test is Performed
The test is done in a medical facility designed to perform this test. The exact procedure depends on the part of the body being examined.
You may receive medicine to help you relax.
For most tests:
- A dye (contrast) is injected into an artery or vein.
- Injection into an artery takes more preparation and care. Most of the time, an artery in the groin will be used.
- X-rays are taken to see how the dye flows through your bloodstream.
How to Prepare for the Test
How you should prepare depends on the part of the body being examined. Your health care provider may tell you to stop taking certain drugs that could affect the test, or blood thinning medicines. In most cases, you may not be able to eat or drink anything for a few hours before the test.
How the Test will Feel
You may have some discomfort from a needle stick. You may feel symptoms such as flushing in the face or other parts of the body. The exact symptoms will depend on the part of the body being examined.
If you had an injection in your groin area, you will usually be asked to lie flat on your back for a few hours after the test. This is to help avoid bleeding. Lying flat may be uncomfortable for some people.
Why the Test is Performed
An arteriogram is done to see how blood moves through the arteries. It is also used to check for blocked or damaged arteries. In some cases, treatments can be done at the same time as an arteriogram.
The risks depend on the type of arteriogram performed. Talk to your doctor about the risks involved before you have the test.
Risks may include:
- Allergic reaction to the dye used
- Bleeding, infection, and pain at the injection site
- Blood clots
- Damage to blood vessels
- Damage to the kidneys from the dye used (higher risk for people who have diabetes or weaker kidney function)
Kern M. Catheterization and angiography. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 57.
White CJ. Atherosclerotic peripheral arterial disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 79.
Zivin JA. Approach to cerebrovascular diseases. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 413.
Review Date: 4/7/2014
Reviewed By: Jason Levy, MD, Northside Radiology Associates, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.