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An angiogram is a procedure to look at arteries in your body. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to your body.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • You may bleed after your catheter is removed. The catheter may damage your artery, and you may need surgery to fix this. You may have fluid build up in your lungs and lead to difficulty breathing. You could have kidney problems from the dye. You could have an allergic reaction to the dye or numbing medicine. You may get a blood clot in your leg. This can cause pain and swelling, and it can stop blood from flowing where it needs to go in your body. The blood clot can break loose and travel to your lungs. A blood clot in your lungs can cause chest pain and trouble breathing. This problem can be life-threatening.

  • If you do not have an angiogram, caregivers may not know the best way to treat your health problem. This could cause your health condition to get worse.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.

  • Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your lungs and heart. Caregivers use it to see how your lungs and heart are doing. Caregivers may use the x-ray to look for signs of infection like pneumonia, or to look for collapsed lungs. Chest x-rays may show tumors, broken ribs, or fluid around the heart and lungs.

  • Circulation checks: Your pulse will be checked in your wrists, feet, or ankles to make sure you have good blood flow. Caregivers may mark the spots on your legs and feet where the pulse is the strongest. Caregivers may also take a blood pressure reading in both arms or both legs.

  • A Foley catheter is a tube put into your bladder to drain urine into a bag. Keep the bag below your waist. This will prevent urine from flowing back into your bladder and causing an infection or other problems. Also, keep the tube free of kinks so the urine will drain properly. Do not pull on the catheter. This can cause pain and bleeding, and may cause the catheter to come out. Caregivers will remove the catheter as soon as possible to help prevent infection.

  • Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.

  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

  • Pre-op care: You will be asked to remove all clothing and change into a hospital gown. Go to the bathroom before the test so that you will be comfortable. Caregivers may ask you to remove jewelry, hairpins, glasses, and dental plates. You may be given medicine right before the procedure. This medicine may make you feel sleepy and more relaxed. You may be given medicine to decrease the risk of itching or an allergic reaction because of the dye.

During your procedure:

  • You will lie on a movable x-ray bed. There are large x-ray machines and other equipment in the room. Lead aprons may be placed over your neck or body to protect your organs from x-rays. Before putting in the catheter, a caregiver will clean the skin over the artery with soap. This soap may make your skin yellow, but it will be cleaned off later. The skin may be shaved to see the area better. Sterile sheets will be put over you to keep the area clean. You may get medicine called local anesthesia that will numb the area where the angiogram catheter will go in. You may also be given medicine in your IV to help you relax.

  • The angiogram catheter will be put into an artery, usually in your leg near your groin. The catheter may be placed in your arm instead of your leg. You may feel pressure or discomfort when the catheter is first put into the skin. The catheter travels through the artery to the area in the body that is being studied. Dye is put through the catheter to help your blood vessels and organs show up better in the x-ray pictures. You may feel warm as the dye is put into the catheter. You may get a headache or upset stomach. These are normal feelings and will go away quickly. It is very important that you lie very still while the x-rays are taken so that caregivers can get good pictures.

After your procedure:

  • When the angiogram is over, the catheter will be taken out of your artery. Firm pressure will be applied for at least 10 to 20 minutes where the catheter went into your skin. This allows the artery to seal over so it will not bleed. You may then have a tight pressure bandage and possibly a sandbag placed over the puncture site. If so, the sandbag will stay in place for 2 or more hours. You will be able to eat and drink after caregivers know that your artery is sealed over and that your stomach is feeling okay. A collagen plug, stitches, or another device may be used to close your artery.

  • Caregivers will check your vital signs (blood pressure and heartbeat) often for the first 1 to 2 hours after your angiogram. They will also check the blood flow in your arm or leg that was used for the angiogram. You may need lie flat and keep your arm or leg straight for several hours after your angiogram. Follow your caregiver's instructions carefully. Moving too soon after an angiogram may cause serious problems. Do not lift your head, raise the head or foot of your bed, or get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. Let your caregiver know if lying flat is uncomfortable.

  • You must use a bedpan or a urinal until you are able to get out of bed and go to the bathroom. If you are unable to use a bedpan or a urinal, a Foley catheter may be placed in your bladder.

  • Arrange to have a friend or family member stay with you until you are allowed to sit up and move around in bed. They can help you eat and drink during the time that you have to lie flat.

  • When you are allowed out of bed, get up slowly. If you ever feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away. Then call your caregiver.

  • Caregivers will watch you closely for problems that can happen after an angiogram. Tell your caregiver if:

    • You have chest pain, pressure, or tightness.

    • Your leg or arm feels unusually hot or cold, or turns a different color. Tell caregivers if your leg or arm hurts or feels numb.

    • You feel swelling or wetness at the puncture site.

    • You have pain in your back, thigh, or groin.

    • You feel nauseated or start to sweat a lot.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.