Venous intravasation

Last revised by Raymond Chieng on 12 May 2024

Venous intravasation is the unintended introduction of radiographic contrast material into the local venous system. It is a well-recognized phenomenon during retrograde urethrograms 1,2 and hysterosalpingograms (HSG), although can occur with other invasive procedures in the vicinity of venous plexi, e.g. myelography 3, vertebroplasty 4, barium enema 5.


Using oil-soluble contrast agents (e.g. lipiodol) in HSG can lead to venous intravasation, causing venous embolism to the lungs, pulmonary embolism, or embolism to the cerebral circulation. However, this complication is rare 6. Water-soluble contrast does not cause this kind of complication 7.

Excessive pressure while injecting contrast against urethral stricture on retrograde urethrogram can cause venous intravasation, potentially causing an allergic reaction, bacteremia, sepsis, and worsening of urethral stricture 8.

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