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:
- Help doctors identify narrowed, enlarged, and blocked blood vessels
- Determine if there is blood leaking out of the vessels and into other parts of your body
In some cases, the doctor can treat a blocked blood vessel 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 chemical used
Abnormal heart beats, called
- Bleeding at point of catheter insertion
- Damage to blood vessels, which can cause damage to organs and tissue
- Kidney damage from contrast material
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
- Allergies, especially to x-ray dye, iodine, medications, or certain foods, including shellfish
- Kidney problems
- Bleeding disorder
Before the test, your doctor may:
- Ask about your medical history
- Perform a
- Do blood tests
- Recommend 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 doctor will guide the catheter through the arteries to the area to be examined. The contrast material is injected through the catheter. The doctor will watch the procedure 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 injected
- Pressure when catheter is inserted
- Hot and flushed sensation when 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.
After your procedure, be sure to follow your doctor's
When you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
- Drink extra fluids, as instructed by your doctor. This will help flush the contrast material from your system.
- Do not lift heavy objects or do any strenuous exercise or sexual activity for at least 24 hours or as directed by your doctor.
- Change the dressing around the incision area as instructed.
- Take medication as instructed.
- Ask your doctor when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
The doctor will examine the x-rays. Your doctor will discuss the findings and any necessary treatment options with you.
Contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the catheter site
- Extreme sweating, nausea, or vomiting
- Extreme pain, including chest pain
- Leg or arm feels cold, turns white or blue, or becomes numb or tingly
- Difficulty breathing
- Any problems with your speech or vision
- Facial weakness
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Angiogram. VascularWeb website. Available at:
http://www.vascularweb.org/vascularhealth/Pages/angiogram.aspx. Updated January 2011. Accessed May 20, 2013.
Angiogram (arteriogram). California Pacific Medical Center website. Available at:
http://www.cpmc.org/learning/documents/ir-angioarterio-ws.pdf. Updated September 2007. Accessed May 20, 2013.
Catheter angiography. Radiological Society of North American Radiology Info website. Available at:
http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=angiocath. Updated April 22, 2013. Accessed May 20, 2013.
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 May 20, 2013.
Last reviewed March 2014 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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