An angiography is an
exam of the blood vessels. The exam uses a chemical that is injected into the blood vessels. The chemical makes the blood vessels easier to see on the x-ray.
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This procedure may be done to: Identify narrowed, enlarged, and blocked blood vesselsDetermine if there is blood leaking out of the vessels and into other parts of your body
In some cases, a blocked blood vessel can be treated during the procedure. This would prevent the need for another procedure.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like: Allergic reaction to the chemical used
Abnormal heart beats, called
arrhythmiasBleeding at point of catheter insertionDamage to blood vessels, which can cause damage to organs and tissueKidney damage from contrast materialInfectionStroke
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include: Allergies, especially to x-ray dye, iodine, medications, or certain foods, including shellfishKidney problemsDiabetesBleeding disorder
Before the test, your doctor may: Ask about your medical historyPerform a
physical examDo blood testsRecommend stopping certain medications
You will need to arrange for a ride to and from the procedure.
A local anesthesia will be injected into your arm or groin. A small dose of sedative may also be given by IV.
An area of your groin or arm will be cleaned. This is where a catheter will be inserted. A small incision will be made into your skin. The catheter will be placed through the incision into an artery. The catheter will be guided through the arteries to the area to be examined. The contrast material is injected through the catheter. The procedure will be viewed on a nearby monitor. Several sets of x-rays will be taken. The catheter will then be removed. Pressure will be applied to the area for about 10 minutes.
Less than an hour to several hours. It depends on whether the doctor decides to fix any problems at the same time.
Although the procedure is not painful, you may feel the following discomfort: Brief sting when local anesthesia is injectedPressure when the catheter is insertedHot and flushed sensation when the contrast material is injected
Immediately following the procedure: You will need to lie flat for a period of time. The length of time depends on your overall health and the reason for the exam.You may need to have pressure applied to the entry site to control bleeding.Tell the nurse if you notice any swelling, bleeding, black and blue marks, or pain where the catheter was inserted.You will be encouraged to drink a lot of fluids to flush the contrast material from your system.You may be allowed to leave the hospital after this recovery period. The length of your stay will depend on your other medical problems.
When you return home after the procedure, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.
The doctor will examine the x-rays. Your doctor will discuss the findings and any necessary treatment options with you.
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as: Signs of infection, including fever and chillsRedness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the catheter siteExtreme sweating, nausea, or vomitingExtreme pain, including chest painLeg or arm feels cold, turns white or blue, or becomes numb or tinglyDifficulty breathingAny problems with your speech or visionFacial weakness
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Angiogram. VascularWeb website. Available at:
https://vascular.org/patient-resources/vascular-tests/angiogram. Updated January 2011. Accessed March 1, 2016.
Angiogram (arteriogram). California Pacific Medical Center website. Available at:
http://www.cpmc.org/learning/documents/ir-angioarterio-ws.pdf. Updated March 2015. Accessed March 1, 2016.
Catheter angiography. Radiological Society of North American Radiology Info website. Available at:
http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=angiocath. Updated February 12, 2014. Accessed March 1, 2016.
What is coronary angiography. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ca. Updated March 2, 2012. Accessed March 1, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2016 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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