- A peripheral angiogram is a test that uses x-rays and contrast to help your doctor find narrowed or blocked areas in one or more of the arteries that supply blood to your legs. The test is also called a peripheral arteriogram.
- Doctors use a peripheral angiogram if they think blood is not flowing well in the arteries leading to your legs or, in rare cases, to your arms. The angiogram helps you and your doctor decide if a surgical procedure is needed to open the blocked arteries. Peripheral angioplasty is one such procedure. It uses a balloon catheter to open the blocked artery from the inside. A stent, a small wire mesh tube, is generally placed in the artery after angioplasty to help keep it open.
Your doctor will give you instructions about what you can eat or drink during the 24 hours before the test.
- Usually you’ll be asked not to eat or drink anything for before your peripheral angiogram.
- Tell your doctor about any medicines (including over-the-counter herbs and vitamins) you take. He or she may ask you not to take them before your test. Don’t stop taking your medicines until your doctor tells you to.
- Tell your doctor or nurse if you are allergic to anything, especially iodine, shellfish, latex or rubber products, medicines like penicillin, or x-ray contrast.
- Leave all of your jewelry at home.
- Arrange for someone to drive you home after your angiogram.
- A small bruise at the puncture site is common. If you start bleeding from the puncture site, lie flat and press firmly on that spot. Ask someone to call the doctor who did your peripheral angiogram.
- Call your doctor if:
- your leg with the puncture becomes numb or tingles, or your foot feels cold or turns blue
- the area around the puncture site looks more bruised
- the puncture site swells or fluids drain from it
HOW THE PROCEDURE IS PERFORMED
- A doctor with special training performs the test with a team of nurses and technicians. The test is performed in a hospital or outpatient clinic.
- Before the test, a nurse will put an IV (intravenous line) into a vein in your arm so you can get medicine (sedative) to help you relax. You’ll be awake during the test.
- A nurse will clean and shave the area where the doctor will be working. This is usually an artery in your groin.
- A local anesthetic will be given to numb the needle puncture site.
- The doctor will make a needle puncture through your skin and into your artery, and insert a long, thin tube called a catheter into the artery. You may feel some pressure, but you shouldn’t feel any pain.
- The doctor will inject a small amount of contrast into the catheter. This makes the narrowed or blocked sections of your arteries show up clearly on x-rays. The dye may cause you to feel flushed or hot for a few seconds.
- A peripheral angiogram usually takes 1 to 3 hours from the time you arrive until the catheter is removed.
AFTER THE PROCEDURE
- You will go to a recovery room for 6 to 8 hours.
- To prevent bleeding, the nurse will put pressure on the puncture site. After about 45 minutes, the nurse will remove the pressure and check for bleeding.
- The nurse will ask you not to move the leg used for the catheter.
- The nurse will continue to check often for bleeding or swelling.
- Before you leave, the nurse will give you written instructions about what to do at home.
- Drink lots of liquids to make up for what you missed while you were preparing for the angiogram and to help flush the dye from your body. For most people, this means drinking at least 6 glasses of water, juice, or tea.
- You can start eating solid food and taking your regular medicines 4 to 6 hours after your angiogram.
- Don’t drive for at least 24 hours.
- The puncture site may be tender for several days, but you can probably return to your normal activities the next day.
- Your doctor will get a written report of the test results to discuss with you.
- Serious risks and complications from peripheral angiograms are very unlikely. But in rare cases:
- The catheter that doctors insert into your artery during a peripheral angiogram damages the artery. Emergency surgery may be needed to restore blood flow to the artery.
- People have allergic reactions to the dye used in the test. Tell your doctor if you are allergic to dyes, iodine, or shellfish.
- There may be other possible risks. When you meet with your doctor, please ask questions to make sure you understand why the procedure is recommended and what the potential risks are.