What Is An Angiogram?

An angiogram is a procedure to detect abnormalities in your blood vessels. Contrast dye is injected into the blood vessels while X-ray images are taken. The pictures provide a road map of your vessels. Any blockages, narrowing, aneurysms (ballooning) or other abnormalities of the arteries are imaged. For example, a narrowed artery in the leg may cause pain when you walk; a narrowed kidney artery can cause high blood pressure and narrowed arteries to the brain may cause vision problems or weakness. These images will aid in the diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition.

Before The Procedure

Do not eat 8 hours before and drink 4 hours before your procedure is scheduled. You may take medications with a sip of water. Certain medications may increase your risk of bleeding and may need to be held prior to your procedure. You may resume these medications the day after your procedure unless otherwise instructed. If you take insulin, your doctor should adjust your morning insulin dose the day of your test.

If you have an allergy to X-ray dye, please notify your physician as soon as possible. You may need to take special medications a day prior to the procedure.

During The Procedure

An area of your groin or the artery in your wrist or hand will be cleaned for the procedure. You will be given a mild sedative and pain medication to keep you comfortable throughout the procedure. The Radiologist will numb the insertion site and a very small tube called a catheter will be inserted into the vessel. A rapid sequence of X-rays is taken when the dye is injected into the vessel. Each time the contrast is injected, you may experience a sensation of warmth.

If the angiogram reveals a narrowed vessel, a balloon angioplasty or stent placement may be performed at the same time. When the procedure is completed, the catheter will be removed, and pressure will be held on the entry site for 10-20 minutes to stop any bleeding. You may have a compression device applied to stop the bleeding from the angiogram site. This device may stay in place for 1-1 ½ hours.

After The Procedure

Once the angiogram is completed you may be on bedrest for 4-6 hours or until you have recovered from sedation. You will be allowed to eat and will be encouraged to drink fluids to flush the contrast dye from your system. During this time, the catheter insertion site will be watched closely, and your blood pressure and pulse will be monitored.

Once you go home, please abide by the following restrictions:

  • Rest in bed or a recliner for the remainder of the day following the procedure. You should not go home alone the day of the procedure.
  • Lifting and activity restrictions depend on the insertion site for the procedure:
    • Wrist or hand: do not lift more than 5 pounds for the first 24 hours and do not lift more than 10 pounds with the affected arm for 1 week. Do not use affected arm for pulling up in bed, adjusting position, or weight bearing exercise. Avoid flexing the wrist, such as hammering, playing tennis, or swinging objects. Avoid moisture or submerging hand for 7 days (tub, swimming, dishes). Showering is OK.
    • Groin: No heavy lifting of more than 5 pounds, running, swimming, or strenuous walking for at least 2 days after the angiogram. You may return to your usual activity after the two days. Do not take a hot bath or shower for at least 12 hours after discharge.
  • Keep an adhesive bandage on the catheter insertion site for one day to help prevent infection.
  • Because of the sedation you were given for your procedure, we recommend that you have someone stay with you overnight following your procedure.
  • Do not drive a car or operate machinery for the remainder of the day.
  • Do not consume any alcoholic beverages for the remainder of the day.
  • Postpone signing any important papers or making any important decision for the remainder of the day.
  • Do not take any muscle relaxants, sedatives, hypnotics, or mood-altering medication today unless ordered by your physician who is aware you are taking the medication today.

If bleeding occurs, apply manual pressure, and immediately seek medical attention at the nearest hospital. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience loss of sensation, redness, swelling or discharge from the insertion site.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your provider.

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