Arterial Angiography Menu

Arterial Disease

Arterial AngiographyArterial disease includes those conditions that can obstruct blood flow (embolism and thrombosis), compromise the arterial wall integrity risking rupture (aneurysms), or result in abnormal flow of arterial blood, e.g., arteriovenous fistulas. There are many ways in which to pursue the cause(s) of arterial disease upon which to base a rational therapeutic plan:

  • Ultrasound
  • CT, MRI, and other imaging technologies
  • Arteriography to delineate a “road map” of the arterial tree and where it may be compromised within 


Duplex ultrasound is the combination of two different ultrasound modes–the B (brightness) mode to construct a picture of the arterial structure and identify obstructions and thrombosis/emboli and Doppler to study movement, i.e., blood flow. Other non-invasive tests, such as segmental blood pressures to assess the arterial circulation can be useful, but aside from the simple blood pressure measurements, ultrasound remains the easiest, least expensive, and most readily available way to begin the process of diagnosing arterial disease. Even the minimally invasive CT and MRI imaging involve contrast which means each is not totally benign. For these reasons, duplex ultrasound is typically used for the initial investigation into those suspected of having arterial disease or for those at increased risk for it.

Suspicious Findings:

  • Claudication (symptoms of pain in limbs with exertion)
  • Signs of tissue ischemia, such as discoloration, ulceration, or skin integrity

Those at Risk:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Dyslipidemia (high cholesterol/triglycerides)
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Hypertension
  • Previous trauma
  • Conditions in which emboli are possible, such as atrial fibrillation

Arteriography (Arterial Angiography)

Once a diagnosis is proposed–or strongly suspected–catheter-based arteriography is the definitive vascular imaging modality to confirm it, often used to advantage if there is to be simultaneous intervention, such as removal of emboli. It can also serve to identify collateral circulation. Since contrast is used, whether the study be X-ray, fluoroscopic, CT, or MRI angiography, it is considered invasive, with complications possible, such as arteritis, sepsis, anaphylaxis, and nephropathy.

Arterial angiography can identify compromised blood supply to different organs and tissues distal to the point of blockage:

  • Traumatic interruption
  • Mesenteric ischemia
  • Atherosclerosis of large (femoral, iliac) and smaller (carotid, coronary) vessels that can explain conditions from claudication to Raynaud’s phenomena
  • Dissection of aortic aneurysm that blocks an area of arterial branching, compromising tissue distal to it
  • Cardiac vegetation lesions that can separate as emboli

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This information is provided by Vascular Health Clinics and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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