An arteriogram is an imaging test that uses x-rays and a special dye to see inside the arteries. It can be used to see arteries in the heart, brain, kidney, and many other parts of the body.
The procedure is often called angiography.
- Aortic angiography (chest or abdomen)
- Cerebral angiography (brain)
- Coronary angiography (heart)
- Extremity arteriography (legs or arms)
- Fluorescein angiography (eyes)
- Pulmonary angiography (lungs)
- Renal arteriography (kidneys)
How the test is performed
The test is done in a medical facility designed to perform this test. The exact procedure depends on the part of the body being examined.
You may receive a sedative to help you relax.
In general, a dye called contrast material is injected into an artery or vein, depending on the body part being examined. Injection into an artery takes more preparation and care, and is most often done through the groin. X-rays are taken to see how the dye flows through your bloodstream.
How to prepare for the test
How you should prepare depends on the part of the body being examined. Your health care provider may tell you to stop taking certain drugs that could affect the test. In most cases, you may not be able to eat or drink anything for a few hours before the test.
How the test will feel
You may have some discomfort from a needle stick. Depending upon the type of arteriogram being performed, you may have a variety of symptoms when the health care provider injects the contrast material. For example, you may have flushing in the face or other parts of the body.
If you had an injection in your groin area, you will usually be asked to lie flat on your back for a few hours after the test to avoid bleeding. This may cause some back discomfort.
Why the test is performed
An arteriogram is done to see how blood moves through the arteries, and to check for any blocked or damaged arteries. Sometimes, treatments can be done at the same time as an arteriogram.
What the risks are
The risks depend on the type of arteriogram performed. You should ask your doctor about the risks before you agree to have the test performed.
In general, risks may include:
- Allergic reaction to the dye used
- Bleeding, infection, and pain at the injection site
- Blood clots
- Damage to blood vessels
- Damage to the kidneys from the dye used (higher risk in those with diabetes)
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Kern M. Catheterization and angiography. In: Goldman L,Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier;2011:chap 57.
White CJ. Atherosclerotic peripheral arterial disease. In:Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 79.
Zivin JA. Approach to cerebrovascular diseases. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 413.
Last reviewed 5/28/2012 by David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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