Angiography is a radiological examination and is used to diagnose diseases due to the narrowing or blockage of blood vessels. The imaging is done with the help of diagnostic imaging methods such as X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MR angiography) or computer tomography (CT angiography).


To visualise the vessels, it is necessary to use a so-called contrast medium. First, a thin catheter is inserted into the vessel. Then, a first X-ray image is taken without contrast medium. This image is drawn as a guide image. Immediately after the contrast medium has been added, a second X-ray is taken. Both images are digitally processed and the vessels become visible. With these images, the doctor has a detailed overview of the blood vessels and any irregularities.

Interventional angiography and endovascular treatment

Small surgical interventions can be performed using catheters inserted into the vessels:

  • special products are injected to block certain tumour-associated blood vessels. This is the principle of embolisation.

These products may be combined with pharmaceutical products, in various forms of chemoembolisation:

  • using special balloons to dilate narrowed arteries and restore adequate blood flow (known as percutaneous transluminal angioplasty)
  • fitting a stent to prevent restenosis of dilated vessels
  • fitting a special chemotherapy pump to inject drugs into an artery or vein or to take repeated samples from patients with fragile veins.

Visualisation of vessels

In its diagnostic role, angiography can be used to visualise stenosis, dilation, vessels of irregular appearance and hypervascular tumours. In certain indications, it has been replaced by non-invasive investigations, such as a CT or MRI scan.
In contrast, the therapeutic applications of interventional angiography mean that it remains relevant, and these applications continue to expand.

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