The chance of any major problem from an angiogram is very small, but some problems can occur. In most cases, the problems occur within 2 hours after the test when you are in the recovery room. If the problem occurs during the angiogram, the test may not be completed. You may need urgent treatment that could include surgery.
There is a small chance that the catheter may damage a blood vessel or dislodge a piece of clotted blood or fat from the vessel wall. The clot or fat can block blood flow to the brain, arm, leg, or intestine (bowel).
Bleeding from the needle site may occur. Also, a blood clot can form where the catheter was inserted. This may cause some blockage of the blood flow in the arm or leg.
The iodine dye used for the test can cause water loss or direct damage to the kidneys. This is a special concern for people who have kidney problems, diabetes, or who are dehydrated. Special measures are used during the test to prevent problems for people who need an angiogram and have these conditions.
There is always a small chance of damage to cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation, even the low level used for this test.
An angiogram is an X-ray test that uses a special dye and camera (fluoroscopy) to take pictures of the blood flow in an artery (such as the aorta) or a vein (such as the vena cava). Your doctor may tell you some results right after the test. Full results are usually ready the same day.
The blood vessels are normal in shape, size, location, and number.
The dye flows evenly through the blood vessels.
No narrowing, blockage, bulging, or other problem of the blood vessels is seen.
Blood vessels that are not in their normal position may mean that a tumor or other growth is pushing against them.
A narrow spot in an artery may mean that a fat deposit, calcium deposit, or clot is reducing blood flow through the blood vessel.
A bulge in a blood vessel may mean a weakness in the blood vessel wall (aneurysm).
Dye that leaks out of a blood vessel may mean a hole in the blood vessel.
There is abnormal branching of blood vessels present since birth (congenital).
An abnormal pattern of blood vessels may mean that a tumor is present.