What you should know

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.

Care Agreement

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.

Getting Ready

The week before your procedure:

  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop taking any medicine before your angiogram.

  • You may be given dye before your angiogram to help caregivers see your arteries better. Tell caregivers if you are allergic to iodine or shellfish. You may also be allergic to the dye. Also, tell caregivers if you are or think you might be pregnant, or if you have kidney problems.

  • You may need to have an x-ray or blood drawn for tests. Ask your caregiver for more information about these and other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

  • Arrange for a family member or friend to drive you home after your angiogram. Do not try to drive home yourself.

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.

The night before your procedure:

  • You may be told not to eat or drink liquids for 6 to 12 hours before the angiogram. Ask caregivers for specific instructions.

The day of your procedure:

  • Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your angiogram. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, and heart pills. If you do need to take medicines on the day of your angiogram, take them with as little water as possible. Bring a list of your medicines or the pill bottles with you to the hospital. Write down the time you last took your medicines. Tell your caregiver about any herbal supplements or over-the-counter medicines you have taken recently. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to anything.

  • 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.


What will happen:

  • 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 hooked up to one or more machines to monitor your heart, blood pressure, and breathing. You may have one or more IVs placed in your arm to give you medicine or liquids. You may be given medicine to help you relax or make you drowsy. You may also be given medicine to decrease the risk of itching or an allergic reaction because of the dye. You may get medicine called local anesthesia that will numb the area where the angiogram catheter will go in.

  • You will lie on a movable x-ray bed. There will be 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.A caregiver will clean the skin over the artery. The skin may be shaved to see the area better. Sterile sheets will be put over you to keep the area clean. 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. 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 feel sick to your stomach. These are normal feelings and will go away quickly.

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. Sometimes a collagen plug, stitches, or another device is used to close the puncture site in your artery. You may be able to move around in bed sooner with these devices.

  • Caregivers will check your blood pressure and heartbeat often for the first 1 to 2 hours after your angiogram. They will also check the blood flow in the arm or leg that was used for the angiogram. You may need to 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. Tell your caregiver if lying flat starts to cause back discomfort. If there is no bleeding, your caregiver may help you roll onto your side.

  • 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. This catheter allows urine to drain from your bladder into a special collection bag.

  • 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 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.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You have a fever.

  • The problems for which you are having the angiogram get worse.

  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure.

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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.