Peripheral Angiogram/Arteriogram Q&A
What is a peripheral angiogram?
A peripheral angiogram is a test that uses X-rays and dye 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.
Peripheral Angiogram, or Peripheral Arteriogram, allows the doctor to see inside your arteries to assess the extent of the blockages, and to plan the next steps in your treatment. If there is a blockage, your doctor may try to open it up using one or more methods.
Why do people have peripheral angiograms?
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 your doctor decide if a surgical procedure is needed to open the blocked arteries.
What kind of procedures are used to open blocked arteries?
Peripheral angioplasty is one such procedure. It uses a balloon catheter to open the blocked artery from the inside. If the balloon is not sufficient to keep the artery open, the doctor may perform a mechanical or laser atherectomy, which will remove the plaque from the artery. In some cases, a small wire mesh tube called a stent, is placed in the artery after angioplasty to help keep it open.
What happens during the peripheral angiogram?
A doctor with special training performs the test with a team of nurses and technicians. Before the test, a nurse will put an IV (intravenous line) into a vein in your arm so you can get medicine and fluids. You’ll be awake during the test.
- The area where the doctor will be working will be cleaned and shaved. This is usually near 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 dye 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.
What happens after the peripheral angiogram?
After the procedure, you will go to a recovery area for a few hours where you are not to move the leg used for the catheter. The area will be checked often for bleeding or swelling.
Before you leave, you will be given written instructions about what to do at home.