About Your Angiogram

After studying your medical history, it has been determined by your physician — in consultation with your radiologist — that an angiogram is the appropriate diagnostic examination for you. This page is intended to provide you with information about the procedure.

What is an Angiogram?

An angiogram is a diagnostic procedure that literally means taking X-rays of the blood vessels. During the examination, your radiologist will insert a catheter (plastic tube) into the arteries to determine where the vessels are and whether they are open, closed, narrowed or diseased. The procedure will help determine whether treatment is needed. Performed in the special procedures room of the Radiology Department, an angiogram requires the use of highly specialized equipment, including fluoroscopic and television monitors, heart monitoring equipment and an injector to introduce dye into the catheter. Your radiologist has extensive technical training and knowledge needed to perform the procedure.

Because you will be awake during the examination, you will be able to ask questions or relate any difficulties that you may be experiencing during the examination. Please ask questions if there is anything about the procedure that has not been explained or you do not understand.

What to Expect

Before an angiogram is performed, an area either in your groin or arm is shaved, cleaned and anesthetized, or “frozen,” with a local anesthetic. A catheter then is inserted into the artery through this numbed region. Using the television monitor, this catheter is manipulated to the area where the arteries of concern are to be X-rayed. This tubing has holes in the end of it through which the iodine dye is injected. As the blood mixes with the dye and carries it through the arteries, X-rays will be taken.

You will feel the initial needlestick anesthetizing the skin. The introduction and manipulation of the catheter is totally painless. You may experience mild discomfort during the dye injections. The radiologist will instruct you more specifically as to what to expect and where you will feel the sensation.

The radiologist has the option of changing the type of catheter being used and actually manipulating this tubing into a specific artery and then taking additional X-rays of a more localized area. Again, the radiologist will instruct you beforehand as to what to expect.

Because the length of the exam depends on many intangible factors, such as whether the arteries themselves are normal and what, if anything, is found on the initial X-rays, your radiologist cannot say with certainty how long it will take. However, it is important to remember that you should be fairly comfortable and painfree.

After the Procedure

Following the angiogram, you will be required to lie in bed for approximately five to six hours, which allows time for the puncture site to heal. The radiology nurse will give you additional instructions on your care while confined to bed.

Obtaining Your Consent

While angiograms are performed daily in most hospitals on patients of every age group — from newborns to the elderly people — no procedure of this type is without risk. The incidence of complications or risk is variable, depending on such things as the patient’s age, the underlying disease or the presence of other problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, among others. Your physician and radiologist are aware of any potential complications and will discuss them with you. You also will be instructed to carefully read and sign an informed consent form, which lists most of these complications.

If you have any questions regarding your angiogram, please contact one of our radiologists by calling the Department of Radiology at 732-923-6800 or the medical physicist at 732-923-6811.

Click here for the informational brochure (pdf).

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