Lower Limb Angiography: Risks And Benefits Lower Limb Angiography: Risks And Benefits

Lower Limb Angiography: Risks And Benefits

Artemis Hospital

April 12, 2024 |
Lower Limb Angiography: Risks And Benefits 9 Min Read | 103

Angiography is a test used to assess the health of your blood vessels and to check how blood flows through them. Lower limb angiography is a type of angiographic method used to detect the arteries (blood vessels that carry blood away from your heart) in your feet or legs. It is also known as peripheral angiography. 

Lower limb angiography uses X-rays and a special dye to see inside your arteries. Your doctor will ask you to perform this test if you have narrowed blood vessels or blocked blood vessels in your foot. The test also helps to diagnose bleeding and other inflammation of the blood vessels.

How is the Lower Limb Angiography Performed?

You will be asked to lie on an X-ray table. In case you are nervous or anxious about the procedure, your healthcare provider will give you a sedative (medicine that helps to make you sleep or feel relaxed). The procedure is as follows:

  • Your healthcare provider will clean or shave the area, especially the groin area
  • During the procedure, your doctor will continuously monitor your heart rate, pulse rate, breathing, and blood pressure
  • Anaesthetic is injected into the skin over an artery for numbness
  • A needle is placed into the selected artery
  • A thin plastic tube called a catheter is inserted through the needle into the artery. The healthcare provider moves it into the area of the body being studied. The doctor can see live images of the area on a TV-like monitor, and he uses them as a guide
  • The dye flows through the catheter and into the arteries
  • X-ray images of the arteries are taken
  • Along with this procedure, certain treatments can be done. These treatments include:
  1. Dissolving a blood clot with medicine
  2. Opening a partially blocked artery with a balloon
  3. Placing a small tube called a stent into an artery to help hold it open
  • After the treatment or X-ray is done, the catheter is removed. Pressure is applied to the puncture site for 20 to 45 minutes to stop the bleeding. After that time, the area is checked and a tight bandage is applied to prevent further bleeding. The leg in which the needle was placed is most often kept straight for another 6 hours after the procedure. After the procedure, you should avoid performing strenuous activities such as heavy lifting for 24 to 48 hours.

How to prepare for Lower Limb Angiography

Your doctor will conduct a detailed examination before performing the procedure. Before starting lower limb angiography, you should not eat or drink for at least 6 to 8 hours. You should inform your doctor in detail about the medicines you are taking including prescription medicines, non-prescription medicines, vitamin and herbal supplements. 

Before Lower Limb Angiography, your doctor will ask you to stop taking certain medicines such as aspirin, or other blood thinners. Do not stop taking these medicines without your doctor's advice to prevent the occurrence of unwanted complications.
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant, having allergic reactions to any medicines, having or ever had bleeding problems or you had a previous history of allergic reactions to x-ray contrast materials or iodine in the past.

Benefits of Lower Limb Angiography

Lower Limb Angiography helps for:

  • Clear visualization of the arteries.
  • The procedure might help you to walk with less pain. Lower limb angiography will help to heal ulcers and gangrene in the foot if you have any.

Risks of Lower Limb Angiography

Lower Limb Angiography is generally a safe process. Even though the risks may include:

  • Soreness
  • Bruising
  • Formation of a very small lump or collection of blood (hepatoma) where the cut has made
  • Allergic reactions to the contrast dyes
  • Injury to the blood vessels because of the insertion of needle and catheter
  • Excessive bleeding from the site where the catheter is inserted and this may reduce blood supply to the legs
  • Entering of blood clots into the lungs
  • Nerve injury at the site where the needle is inserted
  • Reactions to the dye may even  cause damage to the kidneys
  • In extreme cases, it may even result in stroke or heart attack

Interpretation of Lower Limb Angiography Results

The interpretations are:

  • Normal Results: The results are considered to be normal if you have all the structures normal for your age.
  • Abnormal Results: Narrowing or hardening of the blood vessels due to plaque deposition in the artery walls will result in abnormal results. The X-rays will show abnormal results due to blood clots, aneurysms (abnormal widening of the blood vessels), or due to other arterial diseases. Inflammation and injury of blood vessels, takayasu’s disease (a systemic inflammatory condition characterized by medium and large-sized arteries and their branches), and Buerger’s disease (swollen blood vessels that reduce blood supply to legs) will also cause abnormal results.


Lower limb angiography is a type of angiographic method used to detect the arteries (blood vessels that carry blood away from your heart) in your feet or legs. It is the safest method to get a clear visualization of the arteries and to make you walk painlessly by helping the ulcers and gangrene to heal. Even though it is considered safe, the procedure may also cause certain complications such as allergic reactions, bleeding, soreness, and hematoma, as well as some serious complications like kidney damage and heart attack.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can angiography be done on the legs?

A. Your doctor will conduct an angiography for your legs if you have narrowed or hardened blood vessels in your feet. A leg angiogram will help healthcare providers to have a clear visualization of leg arteries and to plan treatment procedures such as blood clot removal or other methods to manage blocked blood vessels.

2. Can I undergo lower leg angiography if I have an increased fear of all surgical procedures?

A. In case you have fear, anxiousness, or any other mental abnormalities, your healthcare provider will give you a sedative before the procedure that will help you stay calm or relaxed throughout the procedure.

3. Can lower leg angiography clear blockages?

A. No, lower leg angiography helps your healthcare provider visualize your arteries to check blockages in them and to plan treatment procedures to remove them.

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