Aortography is the study of the specific action involving the ejection of blood from the aorta in the heart. Taking an aortogram from the patient could identify if there is a tear in the intimal wall of the aorta. This tear is eventually fatal but can be repaired in some cases.


A catheter is placed in the aorta of the patient, usually through the femoral artery. Once in place a dose of iodine-based dye is injected in order to visualize the flow of blood through the site. During the process, x-rays are being taken of the chest for diagnosis. The dye will create a view of the intimal flap as well as the flow through the true and false lumen.

Risks of Procedure

The aortogram is an invasive procedure that does have its risks. The patient will need to be sedated in order to avoid movement, a catheter is introduced into the patient’s vascular system and the patient also is exposed to the dye as well as having to metabolize the dye. Any of these steps have strong risks for the patient and are considered before the procedure.

Current Use

This procedure was at one time the medical field’s standard for diagnosing an aortic dissection but now there are safer and faster means to collect the data. The newer procedures are also able to see tears between other layers of the aorta that the aortogram could not identify.

Some of the newer procedures include Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computed Tomography (CT), and Transesophageal Echocardiography(TEE). The accuracy of these procedures has proven to be higher than that of the aortogram.

Image Caption: A. Pelvic and lower extremity radiograph shows extensive calcification of the femoral arteries. B. Translumbar aortography shows near-total obstruction of the femoral arteries. Credit: Couri CE, da Silva GA, Martinez JA., Pereira Fde A, de Paula FJ./Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0)