What is an angiogram?
An angiogram is an X-ray test that uses dye and a camera to take pictures of the blood flow in an artery or a vein. An angiogram can be used to look at the arteries or veins in the head, arms, legs, chest, back, or belly. This test is done to look for problems in the arteries or veins.
An angiogram is done for many reasons. For example, you may have this test to find the source of bleeding, such as an ulcer. Or it may be done to look for blocked blood vessels in your lungs.
During an angiogram, the doctor will put a thin, flexible tube into a blood vessel in your groin or arm. This tube is called a catheter. The doctor guides the tube to the blood vessel that will be studied. Then a dye is injected through the tube to make the area easier to see. X-rays or pictures are taken of the area.
You will be given medicine to make you sleepy and comfortable during the test. You may or may not need to stay in the hospital overnight. You will stay in a room for at least a few hours to make sure the catheter site starts to heal.
How do you prepare for the procedure?
Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.
Preparing for the procedure
- Do not eat or drink for 4 to 8 hours before the angiogram.
- Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
- Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
- Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
- If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your procedure. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
- Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.
What happens on the day of the procedure?
Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.
At the hospital or surgery center
Bring a picture ID.
You may get medicine that relaxes you or puts you in a light sleep. The area being worked on will be numb.
The procedure will take about 1 to 3 hours.
After the procedure, pressure will be applied to the area where the catheter was put in your blood vessel. Then the area may be covered with a bandage or a compression device. This will prevent bleeding.
Nurses will check your heart rate and blood pressure. The nurse will also check the catheter site for bleeding.
If the catheter was put in your groin, you will need to lie still and keep your leg straight for several hours. The nurse may put a weighted bag on your leg to keep it still.
If the catheter was put in your arm, you may be able to sit up and get out of bed right away. But you will need to keep your arm still for at least 1 hour.
You may have a bruise or a small lump where the catheter was put in your blood vessel. This is normal and will go away.
When should you call your doctor?
- You have questions or concerns.
- You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
- You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
- You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.
Where can you learn more?
Enter A979 in the search box to learn more about "Angiogram: Before Your Procedure".