Community Health Network

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Angiography (coronary and peripheral)

Your understanding of the treatments and tests you receive are very important to everyone at Community Howard Regional Health System. This information is meant to acquaint you with standard procedures followed in a routine diagnostic angiography.


An angiogram is an x-ray of the arteries and/or veins. This test may be done of large central vessels such as the carotid arteries or smaller vessels like those of the arms or legs. Angiography is a procedure that involves the insertion of a catheter (a long thin flexible tube) into the body. The catheter is inserted into a vein or artery at the groin or the crease of the arm. This test is done to check for blood flow. This procedure is usually done because the doctor suspects decreased blood flow to a body part.

Because blood vessels do not normally show up on ordinary x-rays, angiograms utilize a "contrast agent" containing iodine, which is injected into the vessels. Since x-rays cannot pass through iodine, the agent show up while on the film. This enables the physician to see the blood vessels and blood flow in a specific area.

The physician, nurse or technologist will also discuss with you the benefits and potential side effects that may be associated with this procedure. Use this time to discuss any concerns you may have.


  • The doctor’s office or hospital will give you specific instructions when they schedule your examination regarding eating or drinking prior to your exam.
  • There may be special instructions about not taking certain medications for a few days prior to the procedure.
  • You should have someone available to drive you home after the procedure.


  • You will be directed to the Cath Lab Department Prep & Hold area to prep you for your procedure.
  • The nurse will ask you a series of questions such as:
    1. Are you pregnant? X-rays carry special risks for a pregnant woman and her fetus.
    2. Are you a nursing mother?
    3. Have you had an allergic reaction to iodine?
    4. Do you have any allergies to medications or other allergies such as pollen?
    5. Do you have any medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney or liver disease?
    6. Are you taking any medications?
  • You will have an IV. Your groin may be shaved from belly button to knee.
  • You may be given medication before the procedure to help you relax. The doctor does not want you to be unduly tense or nervous having the angiogram.
  • You’ll be dressed in a hospital gown. It’s a good idea to relieve your bladder before the test, since the procedure might take several hours. There will be a bedpan or urinal available, but you will be more comfortable emptying your bladder before beginning the procedure.
  • You will be asked to lie on your back on the x-ray table. The room will be filled with machines and equipment that might seem a bit overwhelming. Directly above you may be a special x-ray machine, which will be connected to a TV monitor.
  • Your legs and/or arms be secured to keep them from moving and you will be monitored by an EKG, or wires on your chest, and a blood pressure cuff will be placed as well as a finger probe to check your oxygen level.
  • The area where the catheter will be inserted will be cleansed, and you will receive an anesthetic (numbing medication) to the area. This numbing medication does sting when it is injected but this does not last long. A small incision may be made for the catheter to be inserted.
  • A contrast will be injected through the catheter to check the flow through the vessel. It is important to lie very still. Several x-rays will be taken as the contrast is injected.
  • A large machine will be moving around your body and lights will be flashing on and off during the procedure. You may be asked to turn your head as the doctor places a machine around your chest to get a better picture. Through these different views, the doctor can look at your arteries to determine if you have any narrowing or blockages in your arteries.
  • After the procedure, you’ll be asked to lie with your head flat against the pillow and your right leg straight, anywhere from one to four hours. If a closure device is used to seal the hole in your artery, your bedrest will be one to two hours. If a closure device cannot be used, pressure will be applied to the insertion site for up to 20 minutes and your bedrest may be up to four hours.

After the procedure

  • You will be taken to the Prep & Hold area (or possibly a patient room if staying overnight) where your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen will be monitored until your bedrest is complete. Your access site will be monitored closely for any signs of bleeding.
  • The doctor will speak with your family following your procedure and discuss the results of your test and your care plan..

Your comfort during this procedure is very important to everyone at Community Howard Regional Health System. Please let the nurse or technologist know if there is something that can be done to make you more comfortable during your stay.

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