What is an arteriogram?


An arteriogram, also called an angiogram, is a diagnostic test that uses a special dye (contrast dye) and X-ray imaging to view your arteries. The dye that is injected into your arteries can be visualized using X-ray. Arteriography or angiography is a common technique that helps to view arteries of the heart, kidneys, brain, lungs, abdomen, legs, etc. The test can detect blocked, narrowed, enlarged or abnormal arteries in your body.

What are the indications for an arteriogram?

An arteriogram is used to diagnose the following conditions:

  • Peripheral artery disease: narrowed or blocked arteries due to blood clots or atherosclerotic plaques (deposits of cholesterol and calcium)
  • Aneurysm: enlarged arteries
  • Aortic arch conditions: abnormalities in the aortic artery (main artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the body)
  • Renovascular disease: abnormal kidney arteries
  • Vascular malformation: malformed arteries

How do you prepare for an arteriography test?

Before an arteriography, your doctor may order blood tests to assess your kidney function and determine your blood’s clotting ability. You may be advised to stop taking certain medicines that could interfere with the diagnostic procedure, and stop eating or drinking anything 6 hours before the test. Your doctor may give you an anti-allergic medication if you are allergic to the contrast dye. Depending on your condition, you may be asked to drink extra fluids before an angiography. Sometimes, your doctor may administer fluids through an intravenous line (IV).

How is an arteriography performed?

During an arteriography test, your doctor will decide on the site of insertion of the arteriogram catheter (a thin, long tube) – either in an artery in your groin or near your elbow. The region is cleaned and disinfected. You will be given local anesthesia and a small puncture is made to reach the artery with a hollow needle. A thin wire is advanced through this needle and the catheter is inserted over the wire. Your doctor may use X-ray to guide the catheter to the desired location. The dye is injected through the catheter to create contrast during blood flow. X-ray images are captured on a video screen, where your doctor can view the contrast dye flowing in the artery.

During this process, your physician may ask you to lie still and hold your breath for about 5 to 15 seconds to prevent blurring of the X-ray images. Your doctor will remove the catheter and apply pressure at the site of insertion to stop bleeding.

The entire process may take around 1 hour. Sometimes, arteriography may be immediately followed by a treatment procedure. Your doctor may dissolve a clot detected during the test by administering medication or may perform an angioplasty (insertion of an inflatable balloon to compress the clot) and stenting (placing a metal mesh to hold the artery wide open).

What can you expect after an arteriography?

You will be monitored for about3- 6 hours after the procedure and advised to keep your leg or arm with the insertion site straight to avoid bleeding from the puncture. Common post-operative guidelines following arteriogram include the following:

  • The contrast dye gets excreted through the urine, so you will be advised to drink lots of fluids to flush out the dye and prevent dehydration.
  • Avoid strenuous activities like climbing stairs, walking or driving for about 12 hours after the test.
  • You may start performing your daily activities after 1 or 2 days of the test.

Are there any complications of an arteriography?

Like all medical procedures, arteriography may be associated with certain risks and complications. Certain conditions such as allergies, obesity, kidney and blood clotting problems, and advanced age can increase your risk for complications during and after the procedure. The extra fluid administered may cause fluid overload for those with conditions, like congestive heart failure, which are associated with the poor ability to pump blood. Complications may include, but are not limited to:

  • Pain, swelling, bruising or bleeding at the site of catheter insertion
  • Pain, coolness or numbness in your arm or leg
  • Impaired kidney function or kidney failure
  • Severe allergic reactions to the contrast dye
  • Shortness of breath or fluid overload in patients with heart conditions such as CHF
  • Death

What are the advantages of an arteriography?

An arteriogram produces the best images of the arteries and is often combined with the treatment itself, which can be provided through the same type of catheter.

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