Merck Manual

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Common Types of Angiography

Common Types of Angiography


Area to Be Evaluated


Blood vessels of the heart

With cardiac catheterization, the heart itself

To diagnose coronary artery disease and other heart disorders

To determine whether angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery is feasible

To determine the severity of a heart disorder

To identify the cause of chest pain, shortness of breath, or certain other symptoms

To clarify the specific structure of a person’s heart before heart valve replacement surgery



To check for the following:

Cerebral angiography

Blood vessels of the brain

To check for the following:

  • Narrowed or blocked blood vessels (which can cause a stroke)

  • Abnormal connections between arteries and veins (arteriovenous malformations)

  • Inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis)

Blood vessels of the eye

To evaluate damage to the retina due to diabetes (diabetic retinopathy) or macular degeneration

To evaluate the retina before laser therapy

Peripheral arteriography

Arteries of the arms, legs, and trunk, except the aorta and arteries of the heart

To check for the following:

Pulmonary angiography*

Blood vessels of the lungs

To diagnose pulmonary embolism (blockage by blood clots in the pulmonary arteries, which lead from the heart to the lungs) and identify abnormalities of pulmonary arteries and veins

* CT pulmonary angiography has largely replaced conventional pulmonary angiography because it is less invasive.

CT = computed tomography.