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What you should know

An angiogram is used to examine blood flow through your arteries. Arteries carry blood from your heart to your body. Your healthcare provider will use x-rays to see the blood flow.

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 heavily after your catheter is removed. The catheter may damage your artery, and you may need surgery to fix the damage. You may have fluid buildup in your lungs that leads 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 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.

Getting Ready

The week before your procedure:

  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need to stop taking any medicine before your angiogram.
  • Tell healthcare providers if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. You may be given contrast liquid to help your arteries show up better during the angiogram. Tell healthcare providers 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 healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
  • Arrange for someone 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. Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions.

The day of your procedure:

  • Ask your healthcare provider before you take any medicine on the day of your angiogram. Take needed medicine 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.
  • 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 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.
  • The angiogram catheter will be put into an artery in your leg near your groin, or in your arm. 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. You may feel warm as the liquid is put into the catheter. You may get a headache or feel nauseated. These are normal feelings that will go away quickly.

After your procedure:

  • Firm pressure will be applied for at least 10 minutes at the catheter site to prevent bleeding. Your healthcare provider may place a tight pressure bandage or sandbag over the puncture site. The sandbag will stay in place for 2 or more hours. A collagen plug, stitches, or another device may be used to close the puncture site in your artery. You may be able to move around in bed sooner with these devices.
  • You may need to lie flat and keep your arm or leg straight for several hours after your angiogram. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions carefully. Movement 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 healthcare provider says it is okay. Tell your healthcare provider if lying flat starts to cause back discomfort. If there is no bleeding, he 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 urinal, a Foley catheter may be placed in your bladder. This catheter allows urine to drain from your bladder into a collection bag.
  • 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 healthcare provider.
  • Healthcare providers will watch you closely for problems that can happen after an angiogram. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:
    • Chest pain, pressure, or tightness
    • Leg or arm that feels unusually hot or cold, hurts or feels numb, or changes color
    • Swelling or wetness at the puncture site
    • Pain in your back, thigh, or groin
    • Nausea or heavy sweating

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.