The UCSF-John Muir Health Jean and Ken Hofmann Cancer Center at the Behring Pavilion is now open.  LEARN MORE >

Angiography, angiogram, arteriogram are all terms used to identify a procedure that outlines blood vessels, usually arteries, in various areas in the body. Cardiac arteriograms, also called a Heart Cath or Cardiac Cath, outline the arteries of the heart. Carotid arteriograms view the arteries in the neck leading to the brain. Renal or kidney arteriograms view the blood supply of the kidney. Leg arteriograms check blood flow to the leg and groin areas. Aortic arteriograms outline the major blood vessel of the chest and the abdomen.

Description of Angiography, Angiogram and Arteriogram

Angiography, angiogram, or arteriograms are terms that describe a procedure used to identify narrowing or blockages in the arteries in the body. The procedure is the same regardless of what area of the body is being viewed. A small tube called a catheter is placed in a large blood vessel at the top of the leg or in the groin region. The doctor carefully guides the catheter to the problem area (heart, leg, neck, kidney, or aorta) using moving x-ray pictures. By watching the flow of dye through the vessels with x-ray equipment, the doctor identifies obstructions and narrowing. The blood vessels specific to the problem areas are identified. A cardiac angiogram, more commonly called a Cardiac Catheterization or a Heart Cath, outlines the heart arteries. Angiograms that outline the neck arteries are called Carotid Angiograms. Outlining the blood supply to the kidneys is called a Renal Angiogram. Aortic Angiogram outlines the major chest and abdominal blood vessels. Leg (femoral), Iliac (groin), or popliteal (lower leg) are angiograms outlining the upper and lower leg.

Treatment Options

An angiogram is a diagnostic procedure that may lead to a treatment procedure. The doctor reviews the angiogram images either during or after the procedure. A treatment plan is made based upon the medical history, symptoms, location, and severity of the problem. Some blockages or narrowing can be fixed at the time of the procedure. A balloon procedure called angioplasty is often used during the procedure to dilate or widen the artery. A stent (a small, flexible, metal spring-like device) may be used to dilate or open the narrowed area and hold the artery open by supporting the artery wall. After reviewing the x-ray pictures, the doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to replace the artery or bypass (detour around) the obstruction. Surgical procedures are very specific to the identified problem. A carotid blockage requires a different surgical procedure than one used to correct an obstruction in the leg area. Doctors who specialize in vascular procedures are familiar with the surgical procedures available for specific problems and can advise as to how best to treat the problem.

John Muir Health Capabilities

John Muir Health provides full service care for individuals with vascular disease. State-of-the-art Angiography Suites are available at both John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek and John Muir Medical Center, Concord. Expert vascular surgeons are on staff at both medical centers.