Apollo Hospital MumbaiShort Stay SurgeriesDigital Subtraction Angiography

Digital Subtraction Angiography

Cardiology- Digital subtraction angiography

Digital subtraction angiography (DSA) is a minimally invasive procedure performed to detect problems with the blood flow by visualizing the blood vessels. It produces images with high resolution better than typical magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) or computed tomographic angiography (CTA).

It helps in diagnosing and treatment planning of a variety of conditions associated with blood vessels. It helps in identifying the causes for decrease in the blood flow or narrowing of blood vessels. It is used to diagnose brain aneurysm, and arteriovenous malformations (abnormal connection between arteries and veins).

How is digital subtraction angiography procedure done?

DSA procedure is performed by injecting a contrast agent (used to enhance images obtained by increasing the contrast of structures or fluids within the body) in low doses. People with renal insufficiency and hypersensitivity to iodinated contrast media are contraindicated to this procedure. Hence, a pre-evaluation is done to review the medical history.

Before the procedure, the doctor evaluates for:

  • History of any atherosclerotic disease such as myocardial infarction
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney function
  • Allergies
  • Previous surgeries
  • Reports of past angiograms, if any
  • Reports of vascular imaging studies relevant to the procedure

Procedure: The patient is given anesthesia and a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel of interest. Through the catheter, the contrast agent is injected and X-ray images are taken using complex computerized X-ray machines. Heart rate and pulse are monitored continuously throughout the procedure.

Is digital subtraction angiography (DSA) procedure safe?

In general, digital subtraction angiography (DSA) is a safe procedure and relatively non-invasive. But, like any other procedure, DSA may also cause side-effects such as bruising, bleeding, or formation of bump due to collection of blood at the incision site. It may also cause minor complications such as infection at the incision site and rash due to injection of agent.

There is also very low risk of serious complications such as kidney damage (due to agent) with this procedure.


1. How long does a DSA test take?
Digital subtraction angiography (DSA) test may take approximately 2 to 3 hours including the preparation time.

2. Is DSA test painful?
Digital subtraction angiography (DSA) test is not painful in normal circumstances. However, anesthesia is provided to the patient before beginning the procedure. Post the treatment, the doctors may provide pain killers if required.

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