Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Lower limb angiogram and angioplasty (radiology)

4-minute read

What is an angiogram and angioplasty?

An angiogram is a procedure to look for any problems with your arteries using dye and x-rays. Sometimes an angioplasty is performed at the same time to widen or unblock an artery. It involves inflating a small balloon inside the artery. A stent (metal mesh tube) is usually used to hold the artery open.

What are the benefits of an angiogram and angioplasty?

An angiogram will give a detailed picture of your arteries.

The procedure should help you to walk further and with less pain. If you have ulcers or gangrene it should help these to heal.

Are there any alternatives to an angiogram and angioplasty?

There are other tests that can be performed to give a picture of your arteries such as a Doppler ultrasound, MRA (magnetic resonance angiogram) or CTA (CT angiogram).

Another alternative to an angioplasty is surgery to bypass the blocked or narrowed artery.

What will happen if I decide not to have the operation or the operation is delayed?

Your doctor may not be able to treat your problem and improve your symptoms. If you have ulcers or gangrene, it is likely that these will not heal properly, and you may need an amputation.

If you develop significant pain while you are waiting for your operation, contact emergency services.

What does the procedure involve?

An angiogram and angioplasty usually takes 1 to 2 hours.

Your doctor will insert the catheter in your femoral artery using a needle and guidewire (thin flexible wire).

Your doctor will inject local anaesthetic into the area over the artery. This stings for a moment but will make the area numb, allowing them to insert the needle into your femoral artery without causing too much discomfort.

When your doctor is satisfied that the needle is in the right position, they will replace it with a catheter.

If an angioplasty is being done to help improve your symptoms, they will thread a fine tube, with a balloon at the end, through the catheter into your groin. When the balloon is in the narrowed or blocked area of the artery, your doctor will inflate the balloon to stretch the artery.

They will deflate the balloon and remove it. Your doctor may also insert a stent inside the artery to keep it open.

When the procedure is complete, your doctor will remove the catheter from your groin.

Illustration showing an intra-arterial angiogram.
An intra-arterial angiogram.

What complications can happen?

Some complications can be serious and can even cause death.

  • bleeding causing a collection of blood
  • false aneurysm
  • damage to the artery
  • loss of a limb
  • allergic reaction to the equipment, materials, medication or dye
  • kidney damage
  • radiation exposure
  • failed angioplasty

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day.

It is important not to do strenuous exercise for 1 to 2 days.

Regular exercise should improve your long-term health. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Summary

An angiogram and angioplasty is usually a safe and effective way of finding out if you have any problems with your arteries and improving your symptoms.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you. Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com.

For more on how this information was prepared, click here.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2022


Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Angioplasty and Stent Insertion - InsideRadiology

InsideRadiology provides free and easily accessible, accurate, up to date and credible information about medical imaging tests and procedures.

Read more on InsideRadiology website

Coronary angiogram - Better Health Channel

A coronary angiogram is the most accurate diagnostic test for a range of heart problems, including coronary heart disease.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Coronary angiography - MyDr.com.au

Coronary angiography allows doctors to obtain vital information about the severity and position of any narrowing in the arteries of the heart.

Read more on myDr website

Medical tests for heart disease | Heart Foundation

Common tests your doctor may want you to have which will help understand and manage your condition

Read more on Heart Foundation website

Angiography - Consumer Information - InsideRadiology

InsideRadiology provides free and easily accessible, accurate, up to date and credible information about medical imaging tests and procedures.

Read more on InsideRadiology website

Heart conditions - angina - Better Health Channel

Angina attacks can be prompted by exertion or physical exercise, when the hard-working heart muscle requires greater amounts of oxygen.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

SAH Vasospasm Endovascular Treatment - InsideRadiology

InsideRadiology provides free and easily accessible, accurate, up to date and credible information about medical imaging tests and procedures.

Read more on InsideRadiology website

Coronary heart disease

The underlying cause of coronary heart disease is a slow build up of fatty deposits on the inner wall of the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle with blood (the coronary arteries).

Read more on WA Health website

Leg ulcers - Better Health Channel

Age, varicose veins, smoking and arterial disease increase the risk of leg ulcers.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Exercise stress tests - MyDr.com.au

Exercise stress testing assesses the performance and capacity of the heart during exercise and is used to help diagnose or investigate heart disease.

Read more on myDr website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.