Angiography : Risks

Angiography is generally a safe procedure, but minor side effects are common and there's a small risk of serious complications.

You'll only have the procedure if the benefits outweigh any potential risk.

Speak to your doctor about the risks with having angiography.


Side effects

After angiography, many people have:

  • bruising
  • soreness
  • a very small bump or collection of blood near where the cut was made

These problems should improve in a few days or weeks and are not usually anything to worry about.

You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, for any discomfort if you need to.

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Complications

Most people who have angiography do not have complications, but there's a small chance of minor or more serious complications.

Possible minor complications include:

  • an infection where the cut was made, causing the area to become red, hot, swollen and painful – this may need to be treated with antibiotics
  • a mild reaction to the dye, such as an itchy rash – it can usually be controlled with medicine

Possible serious complications include:

  • kidney damage due to the dye – this is usually temporary
  • a heart attack or stroke
  • damage to a blood vessel, causing internal bleeding – further surgery may be needed to repair the damage 
  • a serious allergic reaction to the dye (anaphylaxis), causing dizziness, breathing difficulties or loss of consciousness

These serious complications are very rare. For example, an estimated 1 in 1,000 people will have a stroke that causes permanent numbness or weakness (paralysis) after having angiography.

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When to get medical help

Contact a GP or the hospital for advice if:

  • the cut starts bleeding and does not stop after applying pressure for a few minutes
  • you have severe pain that's not relieved by painkillers
  • your skin becomes red, swollen and hot
  • the leg or arm where the cut was made looks or feels different to your other leg or arm – for example, it looks pale or feels cold
  • a firm lump that's sore to touch develops near where the cut was made
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