Extremity angiography is a test used to see the arteries in the hands, arms, feet, or legs. It is also called peripheral angiography.
Angiography uses x-rays and a special dye to see inside the arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart.
Angiography of the extremity; Peripheral angiography; Lower extremity angiogram; Peripheral angiogram; Arteriography of the extremity; PAD - angiography; Peripheral artery disease - angiography
How the Test is Performed
This test is done in a hospital. You will lie on an x-ray table. You may ask for some medicine to make you sleep and relax (sedative).
Certain treatments can be done during this procedure. These treatments include:
The health care team will check your pulse (heart rate), blood pressure, and breathing during the procedure.
The catheter is removed when the test is done. Pressure is placed on the area for 10 to 15 minutes to stop any bleeding. A bandage is then put on the wound.
The arm or leg where the needle was placed should be kept straight for 6 hours after the procedure. You should avoid strenuous activity, such as heavy lifting, for 24 to 48 hours.
How to Prepare for the Test
You should not eat or drink anything for 6 to 8 hours before the test.
You may be told to stop taking certain medicines, such as aspirin or other blood thinners for a short while before the test. Never stop taking any medicines unless told to do so by your provider.
Make sure your provider knows about all the medicines you take, including those you bought without a prescription. This includes herbs and supplements.
Tell your provider if you:
How the Test will Feel
The x-ray table is hard and cold. You may want to ask for a blanket or pillow. You may feel some stinging when the numbing medicine is injected. You may also feel some pressure as the catheter is moved.
The dye can cause a feeling of warmth and flushing. This is normal and most often goes away in a few seconds.
You may have tenderness and bruising at the site of the catheter insertion after the test. Seek immediate medical help if you have:
Why the Test is Performed
You may need this test if you have symptoms of a narrowed or blocked blood vessel in the arms, hands, legs, or feet.
The test may also be done to diagnose:
The x-ray shows normal structures for your age.
What Abnormal Results Mean
An abnormal result is commonly due to narrowing and hardening of the arteries in the arms or legs from plaque buildup (hardening of the arteries) in the artery walls.
The x-ray may show a blockage in the vessels caused by:
Abnormal results may also be due to:
Complications may include:
There is low-level radiation exposure. However, most experts feel that the risk of most x-rays low compared with benefits. Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of the x-ray.
American Heart Association. Peripheral angiogram. Updated October, 2016. www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/SymptomsDiagnosisofHeartAttack/Peripheral-Angiogram_UCM_441649_Article.jsp#.WFkD__l97IV. Accessed December 20, 2016.
Jackson JE, Meaney JFM. Angiography: principles, techniques and complications. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, Gillard JH, Schaefer-Prokop CM, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2015:chap 84.
Kaufman JA. Fundamentals of angiography. In: Kaufman JA, Lee MJ, eds. Vascular and Interventional Radiology: The Requisites. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 2.
Review Date: 11/11/2016
Reviewed By: Mary C. Mancini, MD, PhD, Department of Surgery, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Shreveport, Shreveport, LA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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