Angiogram - Spinal

What is a Spinal Angiogram? 

A Spinal Angiogram is an examination of the blood vessels in your spine and also in your neck. It is a diagnostic procedure, not a treatment for your condition. It is commonly performed to investigate patients who have experienced weakness, numbness or paralysis caused by abnormal blood flow to the spine. 

Preparation Required Prior To Your Spinal Angiogram 

You will be requested to arrive on the ward at an agreed time. You may have a light breakfast. You do not need to fast. 

On admission to the ward you will have all your details taken by a Nurse and your blood pressure and pulse recorded. 

A Doctor will take medical details. Please state any allergies that you may have or previous reactions to X-Ray dyes. Once the Doctor has explained about the angio-gram and any complications to you, you will be asked to sign a consent form. 

You will need to wear a gown, which will be supplied. Please remove underwear and try to remove hair clips. Dentures need not be removed. 

The Procedure in the X-Ray Department 

When you enter the X-Ray room you will be asked to lie on the X-Ray table. You will be draped with sterile towels. The Radiologist and Nurse will both wear gowns and gloves. The Radiologist will inject some local anaesthetic into your groin to numb the area. A catheter (a long thin plastic tube) will be inserted into the artery in your groin. 

Using x-ray screening the Radiologist will inject some dye into the blood vessels via the catheter in your groin. This will enable the appropriate blood vessels to be exam-ined. During the injection of dye you may experience a warm flush sensation which passes quickly. At the time of the procedure a series of pictures are taken so your Consultant has an overall view of your blood vessels. Once the procedure is complet-ed, the catheter is removed and the Radiologist will apply pressure at the groin for 5 – 10 minutes to stop the bleeding. A small dressing is then applied. 

On Return to the Ward 

You will be required to stay on bed-rest for a minimum of 6 hours. The Nurse on the Ward will check your groin, leg and foot at regular intervals. During this period your blood pressure and pulse will also be recorded. 

You will be advised to lie flat for the first hour after this procedure. 

You may eat and drink. 

You will not be allowed to get up to go to the toilet during the 6 hours following the angiogram. You will be requested to use a bed pan instead. 

Your condition will be assessed by the medical team and a decision will be made about when you can be discharged home. 

As an out-patient, you will be admitted and discharged from the hospital on the same day. 

You will not be allowed to drive yourself home after your Angiogram. 

Please make suitable arrangements for your journey home. 

Risks of Spinal Angiography 

You should be aware of the risks of a Spinal Angiogram and be willing to accept these risks before your admission to the hospital. 

The risks of Spinal Angiography include: - 

Bleeding at the site of the catheter insertion after the test is over. However, this is very uncommon but it is the major reason you will be observed for 4-6 hours af-ter your angiogram is completed. 

Allergy to X-Ray contrast (dye). A serious life-threatening “ allergic” type reaction occurs in approximately 1 in 50,000 to 1 in 150,000 people. This is very rare. Please inform your hospital doctor of any allergies you may have. In particular, if you have had allergic reactions to X-Ray dye in the past. 

Cold, numb or painful foot. Very rarely, the blood vessel the catheter was insert-ed into becomes blocked and prevents blood from going to your lower leg and foot. This would require an emergency operation to reopen the blocked blood ves-sel. 

Stroke. This is the most significant risk of Spinal Angiography. The chance of de-veloping a permanent stroke (weakness, numbness or paralysis) as the result of the Spinal Angiogram is approximately 1 in 1000 people. In addition, there are other, very rare, complications due to inadvertent injection of a blood clot formed in the catheter into other organ vessels. 

If you feel unwell when you return home, please contact your GP or call NHS Direct 

If you have any questions please ring the Neuro X-ray Department on: (0151) 529 5538 or (0151) 529 5542 between 9.00am—4.30 pm 

  • Last Updated:
  • Review Date:
    01 February 2025
  • Author:
    S Flintham
  • Summary:

    A Spinal Angiogram is an examination of the blood vessels in your spine and also in your neck.

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