How It Is Done
An angiogram can be done by different types of doctors, including a
radiologist, cardiologist, or surgeon. Your doctor may be helped by a radiology technologist or a nurse.
You will need to
take off any jewelry. You may need to take off all or most of your clothes. You
will be given a gown to wear during the test.
During the test
You will likely have
intravenous (IV) line in a vein in your arm so your
doctor can give you medicine or fluids if needed. A device called a pulse
oximeter, which measures oxygen levels in your blood, may be clipped to your
finger or ear. Small discs (electrodes) are placed on your arms, chest, or legs
to record your heart rate and rhythm.
You will lie on your back on
an X-ray table. Ask for a pad or blanket to make yourself comfortable. A strap,
tape, or sandbags may be used to hold your body still. A lead apron may be
placed under your genital and pelvic areas to protect them from X-ray
A round cylinder or rectangular box that takes the
pictures during fluoroscopy will be moved above you. The fluoroscope will move
under you during the test.
The place where the catheter will be
inserted (in the groin or above the elbow) will be shaved and cleaned. Your
doctor will numb the area with a
local anesthetic. Then he or she will put a needle
into the blood vessel. A guide wire will be put through the needle into the
blood vessel and the needle will be removed. The catheter will be placed over
the guide wire and moved into the blood vessel. The catheter will be guided
through the blood vessels until the tip is in the area to be studied. Your
doctor will use the fluoroscope to watch the movement of the catheter in the
When the catheter is in place, the dye is injected
through it. You may be asked to take a breath and hold it for several seconds.
Several X-ray pictures will be taken one after another. These will be available
right away for your doctor to look at. You need to lie very still so the
pictures are clear. Sometimes only one lung is studied, or the process may be
repeated more than once for each lung.
An angiogram takes 1 to 2 hours.
After the test
catheter is taken out after the angiogram, and pressure is put on the needle
site for 10 to 15 minutes to stop any bleeding. A small sandbag or clamp may be
put on the site to hold pressure. A bandage is put on the site. You will be
given pain medicine if you need it.
The place in your hands and
feet where your heartbeat (peripheral pulse) can be felt may be marked with a
pen. Your pulse may be checked before and after the angiogram.