An angiogram is an x-ray exam that allows the radiologist to study blood vessels and organs by injecting a contrast material into the blood vessels so they may be viewed on an x-ray film. An angiogram examination assists your doctor in making a diagnosis. The radiologist interprets the information from the procedure and reports it to your doctor, who, in turn, will discuss the report with you.
Most of the time, an angiogram is an outpatient procedure. You will need to have someone with you who can drive you home after the procedure. Occasionally, an overnight stay may be required for some patients. If you know that you have an allergy (of any kind), tell your doctor prior to the examination. Also, if you are a woman of child-bearing age and there is a possibility that you may be pregnant, be sure to tell your doctor this information, as well.
Although your medical center may have specific protocols in place, generally, an angiogram procedure follows this process:
- There is little preparation necessary prior to the procedure, however, you:
- should have no food or drink after midnight on the night before the angiogram.
- may be asked to wear a hospital gown.
- should empty your bladder before the exam.
- may have other lab tests taken before the exam
- will have an IV in place prior to entering the procedure room.
You should tell your nurse or doctor if you have pain or anxiety, and would like medication.
- In the procedure room, you:
- will be assisted onto an x-ray table.
- will have the area cleaned and shaved where the small incision will be made.
- will have a blood pressure cuff, a heart monitor, and a pulse oximeter on your finger.
- will have a sterile drape placed on you.
- will be asked to keep your arms at your side.
- A small catheter will be inserted into the desired blood vessel through the small incision.
- The injection of contrast material is given, and you will feel a hot sensation that will last 5-20 seconds. It is very important that you remain very still during this short period of time.
- The catheter is then removed and pressure applied over the area for about 10-20 minutes to keep the artery from bleeding.
- You will be asked to lie flat in bed in a recovery room for several hours after the procedure. You may be given intravenous fluids and encouraged to take oral fluids. Your blood pressure and pulse will be monitored, and the catheter entry site checked to make sure there is no leakage from it. Any swelling, bleeding, or pain that you notice in the area where the catheter was placed should be brought to your nurse's attention.
At home, drink plenty of fluids and resume your usual diet as directed by your doctor. Avoid strenuous activities (including climbing stairs, driving, or walking any distance) for at least 12 hours. Do not take a hot bath or shower for at least 12 hours. Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- bleeding at the puncture site
- unusual pain or swelling at the puncture site
- abnormal discoloration or temperature change in the arm or leg of the puncture site -- however, a small bruise is not unusual.