What Angiography Technologists Do

An angiography technologist (or an interventional radiologist, as they are sometimes known) uses an imaging technique called angiography to visualize the inside, or lumen, of blood vessels and organs of the body, with particular interest in the arteries, veins, and heart chambers. This is traditionally done by injecting a radio-opaque contrast agent into the blood vessel and imaging using X-ray-based techniques such as fluoroscopy. The film or image of the blood vessels is called an angiograph, or more commonly, an angiogram.

Depending on the type of angiogram, access to the blood vessels is gained most commonly through the femoral artery, to look at the left side of the heart and the arterial system or the jugular or femoral vein, to look at the right side of the heart and the venous system. Using a system of guide wires and catheters, a type of contrast agent (which shows up by absorbing the X-rays), is added to the blood to make it visible on the X-ray images.

The X-ray images taken may either be still images, displayed on an image intensifier or film, or motion images. For all structures except the heart, the images are usually taken using a technique called digital subtraction angiography (DSA). Images in this case are usually taken at 2 - 3 frames per second, which allows the radiologist to evaluate the flow of the blood through a vessel or vessels. This technique "subtracts" the bones and other organs so only the vessels filled with contrast agents can be seen. The heart images are taken at 15-30 frames per second, not using a subtraction technique. Because DSA requires the patient to remain motionless, it cannot be used on the heart.

Both these techniques enable the radiologist or cardiologist to see stenosis (blockages or narrowing) inside the vessel which may be inhibiting the flow of blood and causing pain.

Types of Work Environments

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Labs
  • Outpatient centers

Education and Training Requirements

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists requires that candidates seeking certification as an interventional radiology technologist must already hold certification in radiography. Interventional radiology technologists must register annually to maintain their certification.


According to glassdoor.com, the median salary for angiography technologists is approximately $93,000 per year.

Professional Organizations and Resources

The Society of Interventional Radiology
The Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology
The Registry of Radiologic Technologists

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