Preparation and Home Care
Your doctor has scheduled an arteriogram to be done by our Interventional Radiologist on
at am/pm. This handout explains the test
and how to prepare for it. Our clinic will be in contact with you to answer any questions you
may have and to provide further instructions.
What is an arteriogram?
An anteriogram is a procedure in which a series of x-ray pictures are shown in real time on tv
screens in an x-ray room. This kind of x-ray technique is called fluoroscopy. The pictures are
taken with the use on contrast (x-ray dye). The contrast allows the doctor to see how blood flows
through the blood vessels (arteries) in a specific part of the body.
Why do you need an arteriogram?
It is used to check the blood flow through an artery. Your doctor may want you to have the test
to check blood flow before surgery or to look for an area of blockage.
How to Prepare
1. If you are taking a blood thinner such as Coumadin (warfarin), aspirin, Persantin , or
Plavix please contact the healthcare provider who prescribes this for you BEFORE the
angiogram. Most people must stop this type of medicine several days before the test under
the direction of their doctor.
2. Please make plans to have someone drive you home after the test. You should not drive or
make important decisions for 24 hours after the test.
3. You should have someone stay with you that night, just in case any problems occur and you
need medical care right away.
4. The morning of the test, do not eat solid foods 6 hours before the exam. You may drink
clear liquids (fluid you can see through) until 4 hours before the exam.
5. If you are taking insulin we will need to know what kind you take in order to instruct you on
how much to take the morning of the procedure. Most often, if you normally take long
acting insulin in the morning, you should take ½ the dose on the morning of the procedure.
If you normally take short acting insulin in the morning, most often you should take not take
6. If you take a medicine called Glucophage (metformin) for diabetes you should not take
any of this medicine the day of the test and for 48 hours after the test.
7. Take your other prescribed oral medicine on schedule the day of the test with a sip of water.
8. If you are pregnant or think you may be, please tell the radiologist and x-ray staff.
9. Tell the x-ray staff if you have any allergies to x-ray dyes, iodine, seafood, anesthetic agents,
latex, or any other medicines that you may have taken before. Also, tell the e-ray staff if
you have kidney problems.
You will arrive at the Radiology Preparation area. Before the test, our radiologist will talk with
you about the procedure and ask you for your consent to do it. An IV (intravenous) catheter will
be inserted into your vein to give you fluids. A nurse will listen to your heart and lungs to make
sure you can safely be sedated for the procedure. A urinary catheter will be inserted into your
bladder to drain urine since you will not be able to get up to go to the bathroom during or
immediately after the test.
You will be transported to the radiology suite. The test will take at least one hour. Before the
procedure, the skin over your right or left groin will be washed with a special soap. Sometimes it
is necessary to shave the area, too. You will be covered with sterile drapes to help prevent
infection. The doctors will also wear sterile gowns and masks.
The test is performed through a small tube (usually the size of spaghetti or smaller) that is
inserted into the artery in your groin area. The skin around the groin site will be numbed with a
local numbing medicine so you will have little discomfort during the test. You will get some
medicine to sedate you and pain medicine if you do have any pain. Patients usually feel pressure
at the groin site when the tube is inserted into the artery
Through the tube in the artery, x-ray dye will be injected into the blood stream. The doctor will
take pictures of how the x-ray dye flows through your blood vessels. During the injection of the
dye you may have a warm, flushed feeling. This feeling is normal and may also be felt in the
abdomen and buttocks. You will also be asked to hold your breath at certain times so there is no
motion on the x-ray films.
After the Procedure
After all the pictures are taken, the doctor will remove the tube from the artery and will apply
pressure at the groin site for 10-15 minutes. A bandage will be placed on the puncture site.
You will be transported to a recovery area where nurses will check the groin site for bleeding or
swelling. They will also be checking your vital signs and pulses in your legs. You will need to
lie flat and keep the leg with the puncture site straight for 4-6 hours after the test. You will be
allowed to eat and drink soon after the test is done.
Risks to undergoing an arteriogram include:
1. Bleeding from the groin puncture site.
2. Allergy to x-ray dye.
3. Damage to kidneys from x-ray dye.
4. Damage to the artery where the catheter tube is inserted.
Before you go home
1. Have the nurse or doctor show you and your family how to apply direct pressure to the site.
2. Write down the date the doctor says you can return to work: ______________________
3. Write down the date the doctor says you can resume driving: ______________________
What to do when you are home
1. If bleeding occurs at the site, apply direct pressure and go to the nearest emergency room.
2. Keep your leg (with puncture site) straight when sitting and lying down for the first 24 hours.
3. No heavy lifting (more than 10 pounds) for 24 hours after the procedure.
4. No vigorous activity or straining (riding a bicycle, golfing, or doing sit-ups) for 1 week post –
procedure. Walking on a flat surface for exercise is preferred during the first week.
5. Push fluids after the test to flush the dye from your system. Drink at least 8 glasses of liquid
for the first 24 hours. You should not drink alcohol the first day. You may eat whatever you
6. Keep the puncture site covered with a Band-Aid and dry for 24 hours. After that, you can
remove the Band-Aid and shower or bathe. Put a clean Band-Aid over the site each day
for the next 3 days.
7. Do not sit in a bathtub, hot tub, or go into a swimming pool for 1 week or until the site is
What to Expect
ξ Soreness or tenderness at the site that may last up to a week.
ξ Mild oozing of blood from the site may be present but should not soak more than two
ξ Bruising at the site that may take 2 to 3 weeks to go away.
ξ A small lump which may be dime or quarter sized which may last up to 6 weeks.
What to do for minor pain
You should feel little pain at home. If you do have soreness in the groin area, you may take
acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®) 325 mg tablets every 4 – 6 hours. Do not take aspirin or
You may place an ice pack or warm pack over the site for 20 minutes every 2 hours.
When to Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you notice any signs of infection which may include:
ξ Redness or swelling of the puncture site
ξ Foul smelling yellowish or greenish drainage from the puncture site
ξ Fever over the 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit for two readings taken a few hours apart
ξ A very large bruise under and around the puncture site which is firm to touch
ξ Severe pain or spasms in the leg
ξ Numbness and/or tingling in foot or leg
ξ Loss of motion in foot or leg
ξ Itching or hives on any part of your body
ξ Uncontrolled nausea or vomiting
If you have any questions or problems once you are home, call the Interventional Radiology
Department (608) 263-9729, prompt 3, during the day (8:30 am to 5:30 pm).
After hours, nights, weekends, and holidays, please call (608) 262-2122. This will give you
the paging operator. Ask for Interventional Radiologist on call. Leave your name and phone
number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
Toll Free Number: (800) 323-8942
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©4/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4598.