Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.




Venography is an x-ray test that provides an image of the leg veins after a contrast dye is injected into a vein in the patient's foot.


Venography is primarily performed to diagnose deep vein thrombosis (a condition that can lead to pulmonary embolism). It is the standard procedure used to detect this type of disorder. Venography also can be used to distinguish blood clots from obstructions in the veins, to evaluate congenital vein problems, to see how the deep leg vein valves are working, and to identify a vein for arterial bypass grafting.


Venography usually is not performed in patients with kidney (renal) problems.


Venography (also called phlebography, ascending contrast phlebography, or contrast venography) is an invasive diagnostic test that provides a constant image of leg veins on a fluoroscope screen. Venography identifies the location, extent, and degree of attachment of the blood clots, and enables the condition of the deep leg veins to be assessed. It is especially useful when there is a strong suspicion of deep vein thrombosis, but non-invasive tests have failed to identify the disease.
Venography is the most accurate test for detecting deep vein thrombosis. It is nearly 100% sensitive and specific in making this diagnosis (pulmonary embolism is diagnosed in other ways). Accuracy is crucial since deep vein thrombosis can lead to pulmonary embolism, a condition that can be fatal.
Venography is not used often, however, because it is painful, expensive, exposes the patient to a fairly high dose of radiation, and can cause complications. In about 5% of cases, there are technical problems in conducting the test. In addition, the test is less accurate in diagnosing problems below the knee. Venography takes between 30-45 minutes and can be done in a physician's office, outpatient center, or a hospital.
In 2003, a report said that computed tomography (CT) scanning could be used to diagnose pulmonary embolism and deep veinous thrombosis in one examination. By combining CT angiography and CT venography, researchers could look for both conditions in one procedure with high-speed CT scanners. The procedure was quick and delivered a reduced radiation dose. However, it has not become accepted as a replacement for traditional venography and is only preferred if the patient is clinically stable and requires immediate diagnosis and treatment.
During the procedure, the patient lies on a tilting x-ray table. The area where the catheter will be inserted will be shaved, if necessary, and cleaned. Sometimes a local anesthetic is injected to numb the skin at the site of the insertion. A small incision may be required to make a point for insertion. The catheter is inserted and the contrast solution (or dye) is slowly injected. Injection of the dye causes a warm, flushing feeling in the leg that may spread through the body. The contrast solution also may cause slight nausea. About 18% of patients experience discomfort from the contrast solution.
In order to fill the deep venous system with dye, a tight band (or tourniquet) may be tied around the ankle of the foot the dye is injected into, or the lower extremities may be tilted. The patient is asked to keep the leg still. The doctor also observes the movement of the solution through the vein with a fluoroscope. At the same time, a series of x rays are taken. When the test is finished, fluid is injected to clear the dye from the veins, the catheter is removed, and a bandage is applied over the site of the injection.


Fasting or drinking only clear liquids is necessary for four hours before the test. However, sometimes the test is done in an emergency even if the patient has eaten. The contrast solution contains iodine, to which some people are allergic. Patients who have allergies or hay fever, or have had a bad reaction to a contrast solution, should tell the doctor. A sedative, such as diazepam (Valium), may be prescribed to help the patient relax.


Patients should drink large amounts of fluids to flush the remaining contrast solution from their bodies. The area around the incision will be sore for a few days. If there is swelling, redness, pain, or fever, the doctor should be notified. Pain medication may be needed. In most cases, the patient can resume normal activities the next day.


Venography also can cause complications such as phlebitis, tissue damage, and the formation of deep vein thrombosis in a healthy leg. A rare side effect in up to 8% of cases is a severe allergic reaction to the dye. This usually happens within 30 minutes after injection of the dye and requires medical attention.

Normal results

Normal venography results show proper blood flow through the leg veins.

Abnormal results

Abnormal venography results show well-defined filling defects in veins. Findings include:
  • blood clots
  • consistent filling defects
  • an abrupt end of a test dye column
  • major deep veins that are unfilled
  • dye flow that is diverted.

Key terms

Contrast solution — A liquid dye injected into the body that allows veins to be seen by x rays. Without the dye, the veins could not be seen on x rays.
Deep vein thrombosis — The development or presence of a blood clot in a vein deep within the leg. Deep vein thrombosis can lead to pulmonary embolism.
Invasive — A diagnostic test that invades healthy tissue; in the case of venography, through an incision in a healthy vein.
Pulmonary embolism — An obstruction of a blood vessel in the lungs, usually due to a blood clot, that blocks a pulmonary artery. Pulmonary embolism can be very serious and in some cases is fatal.
These results confirm a diagnosis of deep vein thrombosis.



Abella, H.A. "CT Dose Techniques Address PE, DVT—Indirect Venography and Collimation Changes Reduce Exposure." Diagnostic Imaging November 1, 2003.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. angiography of a vein or veins.
2. the graphic recording of the venous pulse; called also venography.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


Radiographic demonstration of a vein, after the injection of contrast medium.
Synonym(s): phlebography (2)
[veno- + G. graphō, to write]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


Radiography of veins or a vein after injection of a radiopaque substance. Also called phlebography.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Phlebography Imaging A technique in which radiocontrast is injected to obtain radiographic or fluoroscopic images of veins, and detect DVT of legs. See CT venography, Percutaneous transcutaneous portal venography, Radionuclide venography. Cf Varicose veins.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Radiographic demonstration of a vein, after the injection of contrast medium. Used to demonstrate blockage of a vein.
Synonym(s): phlebography (2) .
[veno- + G. graphō, to write]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


Radiographic demonstration of a vein, after the injection of contrast medium.
[veno- + G. graphō, to write]
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012
References in periodicals archive ?
Here, the portal vein size does not mean the normal portal vein size in the venography but the size of the graft portal vein at the time of surgery.
For the animals with termination at <98 days, final in-life venography and necropsy showed that the stabilizing cylindrical part of the Sentry frame was incorporated in the vessel wall, and the filter arms were retracted.
Caption: FIGURE 2: Coronal MR venography 3 weeks after operation shows missing right transverse and sigmoid venous sinus.
Prospective study of color duplex ultrasonography compared with contrast venography in patients suspected of having deep venous thrombosis of the Upper Extremities.
[15] Lee BCP, Vo KD, Kido DK, Mukherjee P, Reichenbach J, Lin W, Yoon MS, Haacke EM, "MR high-resolution blood oxygenation level-dependent venography of occult (low-flow) vascular lesions," AJNR Am J Neuroradiol, 20:1239-1242, 1999.
Several imaging modalities (including duplex ultrasound, [13,14] computed tomography venography and (3-D) MR venography [15]) have been validated in the diagnosis and exclusion of postcatheterisation venous stenosis.
(14) CT venography can be useful in confirming a diagnosis of CVT and is comparable to magnetic resonance (MR) venography.
"Orders can be changed to MR venography, and I've had patients who've gone decades with multiple MR venograms and no one can figure out what's going on as no identifiable lesion is readily detected," he said.
It is a particularly important issue for radiologists and vascular surgeons, as the diagnosis of NCS may also affect renal/adrenal venography, venous sampling, and the treatment of thromboembolic diseases [4, 5].
For more delineation of thrombosis propagation we decided to evaluate her precisely using MR venography with gadolinium which revealed "filling defects in the left common and external iliac, common, and superficial femoral and popliteal veins in favor of acute extensive DVT."
Venography has become the gold standard for diagnosing pelvic congestion.
We report five cases of DIVC out of 7722 patients diagnosed by contrast-enhanced Spiral CT venography (CTV) and confirmed by Turbo three-dimensional (3D) timeof-flight contrast-enhanced MR venography (MRV) (3D contrast-enhanced MRV).