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What you need to know about an angiogram:

An angiogram is used to examine blood flow through your arteries. Arteries carry blood from your heart to your body.

How to prepare for the procedure:

Your healthcare provider will tell you how to prepare for your procedure. He may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your procedure. He will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure. Contrast liquid will be used during the procedure to help your arteries show up better in the pictures. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Arrange to have someone drive you home after your procedure.

What will happen during the procedure:

  • You may be given medicine to help you relax or make you drowsy. You may get local anesthesia to numb the area where the angiogram catheter will go in. Hair may be removed from the procedure site.
  • A catheter will be put into an artery in your leg near your groin, or in your arm or wrist. The catheter travels through the artery to the area being studied. Contrast liquid 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 liquid is put into the catheter. You may get a headache or feel nauseated. These feelings should go away quickly.
  • Your healthcare providers will remove the catheter and apply pressure to the wound for several minutes. They may place a pressure bandage or other pressure device over the wound to help stop any bleeding.

What will happen after the procedure:

If insertion was in your wrist, the pressure device will be around your wrist. Healthcare providers will slowly decrease pressure in the device. If insertion was in your groin, a pressure bandage will be in place. Keep your leg straight. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Healthcare providers will frequently monitor your vital signs and pulses. They will also frequently check your wound for bleeding. After you are monitored for several hours, you may be able to go home.

Risks of the procedure:

  • You may bleed heavily after your catheter is removed. The catheter may damage your artery, and you may need surgery to fix the damage. You could have kidney problems from the contrast liquid. You could have an allergic reaction to the contrast liquid or numbing medicine.
  • You may develop a blood clot that causes pain and swelling, and stops blood from flowing. A blood clot in your leg can break loose and travel to your lungs and become life-threatening.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
    • and any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat
  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • The leg or arm used for your angiogram is numb, painful, or changes color.
  • The bruise at your catheter site gets bigger or becomes swollen.
  • Your wound does not stop bleeding even after you apply firm pressure for 10 minutes.
  • You have weakness in an arm or leg.
  • You become confused or have difficulty speaking.
  • You have dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your catheter site is red, leaks pus, or smells bad.
  • You have increasing pain at your catheter site.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Activity after your procedure:

  • Rest for the remainder of the day of your procedure.
  • Keep your arm or leg straight as much as possible.
  • If you need to cough, support the area where the catheter was inserted with your hand.
  • If the angiogram catheter was put in your leg, do not use stairs for a few days after your angiogram. When you must use stairs, step up with the leg that was not used for the angiogram. Straighten this leg to move the other leg up to the next step without putting stress on it.
  • If the catheter was put in your arm, do not lift more than 5 pounds. Avoid pushing, pulling, or heavy lifting with that arm.
  • Your healthcare provider will tell you when it is safe to drive and start doing your other normal daily activities. Go slowly at first.


  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can damage your blood vessels. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Watch for bleeding and bruising. It is normal to have a bruise and soreness where the catheter went in. Contact your healthcare provider if your bruise gets larger. If your wound bleeds, use your hand to put pressure on the bandage. If you do not have a bandage, use a clean cloth to put pressure over and just above the puncture site. Seek care immediately if the bleeding does not stop within 10 minutes.
  • Keep your bandage clean and dry. Ask your healthcare provider when you can bathe. You will need to keep the bandage in place and dry for a few days after your procedure. Cover the bandage with a plastic bag and tape the opening around your skin to keep water out. When you are allowed to bathe without a bandage, carefully wash the site with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandage if it gets wet or dirty. Check for signs of infection every day, such as redness, swelling, or pus.
  • Drink liquids as directed. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Liquids will help your body flush out the contrast liquid used during the procedure.
  • Limit alcohol. Do not drink alcohol for 24 hours after your procedure. Then limit alcohol. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.

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