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Creating X-ray images of your blood vessels

An angiogram, also known as an arteriogram, is an X-ray image of the blood vessels used to review various vascular conditions such as an aneurysm (ballooning of a blood vessel), stenosis (narrowing of a blood vessel) or blockages.

Preparing for an angiogram

  • Do not eat solid food the morning of your test. Medications can be taken with small sips of water up to four hours before the test.
  • Continue taking prescribed medications and bring them with you. If you take insulin for diabetes, take half of your usual morning dosage.
  • A family member or friend should be present at the beginning of the test and at discharge. An overnight stay is possible.
  • If you are scheduled for an angiogram, please arrive two hours before your appointment time.

For your safety

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant. Your doctor may decide to postpone the exam or use an alternative exam such as ultrasound to reduce the possible risk of exposing your baby to radiation.

This exam may require a contrast medium (usually a liquid such as barium or iodine that is ingested or injected) to help differentiate structures or fluids within your body. If you have allergies or asthma, there is a slight risk of an allergic reaction to the contrast. Most reactions result in itchiness or hives. If you have asthma and have an allergic reaction to the contrast, you may experience an asthma attack. In very rare instances, an allergic reaction may cause swelling in your throat or other areas of your body. Diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems or thyroid conditions also increase your risk of reaction to the contrast medium. Tell your technologist or doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms during or after your exam. Our staff and physicians are prepared should any type of emergency situation occur.

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What to expect during an angiogram

During an angiogram, a thin tube called a catheter is placed into a blood vessel in the groin (femoral artery or vein) or just above the elbow (brachial artery or vein). The catheter is guided to the area to be studied. Then, a contrast medium is injected into the vessel to make the area show clearly on the X-ray. This method is known as a conventional or catheter angiogram.

After the procedure, call your doctor if you have:

  • An unexplained fever above 101 F in the next 24 to 28 hours
  • Pain unrelieved by medication
  • Unusual redness, swelling, drainage or odor from the puncture site
  • Discolored / cool skin, pain or numbness in the leg used for the angiogram

Caring for the puncture site

  • After your procedure, keep the site clean and dry for the next 24 hours.
  • The bandage may be removed the following day before showering or bathing.
  • A small area of bruising or swelling in the puncture site area is normal and will gradually disappear. The discolored area may spread as the bruise resolves; however, the area of swelling should not increase in size.
  • Do not panic if bleeding occurs at your puncture site. Immediately lie down on a flat surface and apply firm pressure over the puncture site using the fingers on both hands. Hold firm pressure for 10 minutes. Recheck the site for further bleeding. If the bleeding continues, reapply firm pressure to the site. Call your physician and/or go to the nearest emergency room.


A radiologist will review your exam images and report the findings to your doctor. Your doctor will then discuss the findings and next steps with you.