Blood vessel tests for kidney cancer

You might have tests to look at the blood vessels and blood flow in and around your kidney. 

Why you have them

These tests are called angiography and venography. They make a set of pictures of your blood vessels (this is called an angiogram or venogram).

    The pictures show up:

    • any vessels that are being pushed out of place by a tumour
    • any abnormal vessels growing on or near the tumour
    • whether the kidney cancer has grown through the walls of any blood vessels

    Blood vessel tests are very important for planning surgery. Your surgeon may need to find out how close your tumour is to a major blood vessel in the kidney.

    What happens

    You have this test in a hospital x-ray department. It takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours. You usually have it under local anaesthetic.

    You can have angiography or venography with a CT scanner, MRI scanner or x-ray machine.

    CT or MRI angiography and venography

    This is the most common way to have the test for kidney cancer.

    You have a dye (called contrast medium) injected into a vein in your arm or hand. The dye helps your blood vessels show up more clearly on the scan.

    The CT or MRI scanner makes pictures of your blood vessels.

    X-ray angiography and venography

    You change into a hospital gown and lie down on an x-ray table. Your doctor puts a thin, flexible tube (catheter) into a blood vessel in your groin.

    They gently push the tube up into the blood vessels in the kidney area. You then have a dye (called contrast medium) injected through the tube. This helps your blood vessels show up more clearly on the x-ray.

    After the x-rays have been taken, the tube can come out. A nurse will press on your wound site until there is no sign of bleeding.

    Last reviewed: 
    28 May 2020
    Next review due: 
    28 May 2023
    • Multiple Renal Arteries With Renal Cell Carcinoma: Preoperative Evaluation Using Computed Tomography Angiography Prior to Laparoscopic Nephrectomy
      Guan and others
      The Journal of International Medical Research, 2013. Volume 41, issue 5, pages 1705 to 1715

    • Imaging of Kidney Cancer 
      A Guermazi
      Spinger, 2006

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