Conventional intra-arterial digital subtraction angiography (IADSA), which necessitates surgical exposure and ligation of the femoral artery, is an invasive and expensive method of evaluation for experimental elastase-induced aneurysms in rabbits. The purpose of this study was to examine and validate intra-venous digital subtraction angiography (IVDSA) as an alternative to IADSA by comparing their diagnostic accuracies. We performed both IVDSA and IADSA for 24 elastase-induced saccular aneurysms in a rabbit model, 1 month following creation. Aneurysm sizes (neck, width and height) from both the IVDSA and IADSA procedures were evaluated and measured. Comparison of the aneurysm sizes between IVDSA and IADSA were performed with the Wilcoxon paired signed-rank test. All the aneurysms were seen clearly in both the IVDSA and IADSA techniques. Mean sizes of the IVDSA aneurysm neck, width and height were 3.41 +/- 0.80 mm, 3.61 +/- 0.93 mm and 8.07 +/- 2.11 mm, respectively. Mean sizes of the IADSA aneurysm neck, width and height were 3.43 +/- 0.80 mm, 3.66 +/- 0.92 mm and 8.16 +/- 2.25 mm, respectively. No significant difference was found in the sizes of the aneurysm neck, width and height between the two groups (P = 0.311, P = 0.086 and P = 0.258, respectively). IVDSA appears to be an alternative method for evaluating elastase-induced aneurysms in rabbits.