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What Is the Procedure for an Angiogram?

An angiogram is a common medical imaging technique used to check for vascular diseases. This procedure involves inserting a thin catheter tube into the artery and injecting a contrast dye to visualize blockages in the vessel walls. Here at Commonwealth Vein Center in Colonial Heights, VA, we offer this medical examination to see how well blood vessels in your body are working.

What Is the Procedure for an Angiogram?

Understand What It Is

An angiogram is a medical imaging technique used to see inside blood vessels and organs of the body. Using X-rays, doctors can view the internal structure and function of your heart, brain, or other organs in detail that cannot be seen otherwise. The test helps you understand what’s going on by allowing physicians to identify problems such as vessel blockages and clots.

In addition, this medical test can help diagnose cardiac ailments like coronary artery disease. The test can also detect other conditions like arterial wall irregularities, atherosclerosis (thickening & hardening), arterial aneurysms, and pulmonary embolism (clotting).


The first step is to meet with our primary care physician and discuss why you may need this medical test. The next stage involves having a physical examination, which includes checking blood pressure, pulse rate, and temperature. We will also examine your breathing patterns and lungs for any abnormalities like wheezing or rales (crackles).

In addition, we will also ask you about allergies, previous medical conditions, and medications that you’re taking, along with any herbal supplements you take on a daily basis. You must provide a complete list of your current medicines, including pain relievers and vitamins, so we can determine if they’ll interfere with the angiogram.


Once everything has been finalized, we’ll provide you with a complete list of instructions to follow before your appointment. This includes any dietary requirements and restrictions, such as not eating solid food for 6 hours before the test is completed.

In addition, it’s important that you do not take aspirin or blood thinning medications unless cleared by our staff beforehand since they can affect bleeding during the test process. You should also stop smoking at least 24 hours before the test because nicotine can cause spasms in the arteries and make them harder to examine.

The Test

The first step involves catheterization, which is when a small flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into an artery in your groin area or wrist to examine blood vessels. We use local anesthesia on these areas if necessary so that you won’t feel any pain during this process.

While the catheter is in position, a contrast agent is injected into the bloodstream to outline blockages or other abnormalities in blood vessels, which are then marked for treatment by our doctors. This part of the test usually takes about one hour to complete depending on your medical condition.

What Happens After an Angiogram?

Many patients usually go home the same day following their test, but you may need to stay in the hospital overnight for observation. After completing your test, our physician will discuss the results and outline treatment options, including any necessary medication changes.

For some patients, surgery may be recommended to correct blockages/tumors inside blood vessels as well as remove plaque buildup from arteries. If this is not an option due to existing health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, we will discuss other alternative treatments that may work for you.

Who Can Perform Angiogram?

This type of vascular examination requires specialized training because physicians need to know how to use this technique safely and effectively while minimizing risks such as bleeding and puncture wounds. Our board-certified interventional radiologists at Commonwealth Vein Center have years of experience examining patients like you and know how to provide the best possible care at every stage.

Post-Examination Care

1) Make Sure the Catheter Site Is Properly Dressed

A dressing will be applied to your skin once the catheter is removed, and you’ll need to keep it in place for 24-48 hours after the test. We may give you additional instructions depending on where the catheter was inserted (such as the groin area or wrist).

2) Check for Signs of Infection or Bleeding

While it’s rare, there’s always a chance that infection or bleeding may occur after the catheter is removed. If you notice any signs of redness, swelling, and/or fever accompanied by pain in your groin area or arm where the catheter was inserted – contact our office immediately for further instructions on how to proceed.

3) Rest for the Remainder of the Day

You should avoid any strenuous activities or heavy lifting for the remainder of your appointment that day. Resting and taking it easy will help your body recover from the test and avoid any complications.

4) Eat and Drink As Soon as You Feel Ready To

Since you may be feeling sluggish after the examination, it’s important that you eat and drink as soon as possible to avoid getting dehydrated. You can resume your normal diet unless the doctor instructs otherwise based on test results.

5) Follow Up Appointment

You should schedule a follow-up visit to discuss test results and/or any changes in medication. This will allow our doctors to determine the best course of treatment moving forward and monitor your condition on an ongoing basis if necessary.

Types of Angiography

There are different types of angiography based on the type of contrast used and/or where the test is performed. Common tests include:

Carotid-Pulmonary Angiography

It involves injecting a dye into the carotid artery at your neck, followed by x-rays to look for narrowed vessels in between your brain and heart (pulmonary arteries) that may be impeding blood flow during times when you’re active or exercising.

Coronary Artery Angiography

This is the most common form of cardiac revascularization. The test involves inserting catheters through femoral veins located in your groin area before advancing to the arteries that supply blood to your heart.

Renal Angiography

It involves injecting a dye into the renal arteries to look at your kidneys, ureters, and bladder for any signs of narrowing or blockages which can lead to kidney disease.

Peripheral Angiography

It involves inserting catheters into the femoral or radial arteries in your groin area and injecting a dye to look for arterial narrowing, blockages, and other issues that may lead to symptoms such as leg pain during physical activity.

What Angiography Is Used For

Angiograms are used to investigate different problems affecting blood vessels, including:

1) Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

This occurs when the arteries supplying blood to your limbs and organs become narrowed or blocked, typically due to atherosclerosis. Symptoms may include pain in your legs during physical activity, which can lead to serious complications down the line if left untreated, such as tissue death (gangrene).

2) Atherosclerosis

This refers to the buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries that can eventually lead to reduced blood flow. Atherosclerosis is usually associated with factors that contribute to plaque formation, such as smoking, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

3) Blood Clots

A blood clot occurs when blood flow in your arteries is disrupted. Clots can form anywhere within your body and may be caused by conditions such as excessive smoking, obesity, high cholesterol levels, or other factors which contribute to atherosclerosis.

4) Angina

This refers to chest pain (angina pectoris) caused by poor blood flow through the coronary arteries, typically due to atherosclerosis. The lack of oxygen and nutrients can damage heart tissue leading to severe complications if left untreated, such as a heart attack.

5) Blood Aneurysm

A blood aneurysm occurs when your arteries become weakened and balloon out, usually a result of atherosclerosis. It may also be caused by factors such as high blood pressure or trauma to the artery wall. Aneurysms are particularly dangerous since they tend to bleed without warning symptoms until it’s too late. Treatment typically involves surgery in order to restore a normal blood flow through these vessels before potentially life-threatening conditions occur down the road.

Schedule An Appointment Today!

Angiography is a vital diagnostic technique that is used to investigate a variety of problems affecting blood vessels. The test allows physicians to identify the extent of blockage, determine if there is an underlying abnormality in blood vessels, and also detect tissue growths, such as tumors. Visit us at Commonwealth Vein Center in Colonial Heights, VA, today to learn more about this medical test and what it can do for you.

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