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Arteriogram also known as an Angiogram –This is a diagnostic X-ray test which the doctors use to examine the arteries (blood vessels) in your body which may have been causing you trouble. The arteries which can be looked at include the heart, brain, legs and kidneys; the doctors will be looking to see if the arteries have become blocked, narrowed or enlarged. Some arteries can balloon out and this is called an Aneurysm others when constricted are called Stenotic, the arteriogram shows how the blood is moving around the arteries involved and what effect the abnormality is having. With a usual x-ray you can only clearly see bones but with a substance which is called “contrast medium”, the arteries become visible, as it is x-ray detectable. This substance is injected during the procedure but is eliminated by the body in the urine later.

The procedure will take place in the X-ray department and it may be done as a day case procedure/ outpatient or as an overnight stay. You may attend a pre assessment clinic where you can discuss which is more appropriate way for you to have this procedure done.

The vascular consultant (a specialist in blood vessel disorders) who you will have seen prior to admission will have discussed the potential risks of this procedure with you. They will have informed you that bruising will occur at the puncture site, and that there is a very small chance that a blockage may occur after the procedure which if you are having arteries in your brain examined may cause a stroke. Other blockages can be dealt with by a minor operation; in a very small percentage of people sensitivity to the contrast medium can take place and an allergic reaction requiring treatment occurs. Bleeding from the puncture site is also a risk as it can be excessive, applying direct pressure for 10 minutes will stop this but medical attention should be sought if you are home when this happens.

You will be given instructions on whether you may eat and drink normally and which medications you may or may not take prior to your appointment. These instructions need to be followed carefully as if they are not adhered to it may mean your angiogram may have to be cancelled and rescheduled. If you are going home after the procedure you will need to make sure you do not drive yourself home, and that you have someone to look after you for the next 12 hours or overnight.

Please inform the staff prior to the investigation if you may be pregnant.

The procedure:

The radiologist (who is a doctor who specialises in x-ray techniques) will position you on the x-ray table and ensure you are comfortable.

  • The access point which is usually your elbow or groin will be prepared, cleaned and covered in a sterile drape.

  • The skin will then be numbed with local anaesthetic*link* and a hollow needle inserted into your artery, through this a very fine wire is passed to the artery area which is to be examined.

  • All the time this is happening the progress is carefully watched on the x-ray monitor.

  • A very fine catheter/tube is then passed over the wire to the location, the wire is withdrawn and a syringe of “contrast” is attached.

  • When the contrast is put in you may feel a warm flush, at the same time a series of x-rays will be taken.

  • Once the doctor is satisfied with the results the catheter will be removed and pressure will be applied over the site of access for 10-20 minutes to prevent the artery from bleeding.

  • The procedure may take about half an hour to complete.

  • You will be expected to lie still for half an hour to an hour after the procedure, and then you can sit up.

  • Once the staff are happy with your wound site you will be allowed to go home or return to the ward.

  • If you have any abnormal pain and swelling or excessive bleeding from the wound site or if the arm or leg becomes discoloured and blotchy you should return to the hospital.

  • You will be advised to rest for the next twelve hours and not to undertake any strenuous exercise.
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