Peripheral Angiography - Mapping Blood Flow Through Your Lower Body

Peripheral Angiography is an out-patient procedure that helps find blood vessel problems in your lower body and legs. Because arteries do not show up on ordinary x-rays, arteriograms utilize a "contrast agent" containing iodine, which is injected into the arteries to make them visible on radiographs. It makes a "map" of the vessels (arteries) that carry blood through your body. This map can show where blood flow may be blocked. Blockages can cause painful leg cramps while walking. They can also keep foot wounds from healing. Problems with the arteries may lead to a variety of complications such as stroke, high blood pressure or leg pain.

The type of treatment your particular condition may require will be determined by your angiogram. Once the doctor knows the cause of your symptoms, he or she can find the best treatment for you.

The angiogram is done under local anesthesia while you are awake. Medication will be given to make you drowsy before the procedure. You will have an intravenous (IV) infusion started to be sure you get enough fluid and to provide a way to give you any sedation or medication required for your comfort during the procedure. The procedure can take anywhere from one to three hours. You will be required to have some blood testing prior to your admission. Be sure to mention to your doctor all medications you may be taking, especially if you are taking insulin or blood thinners (such as coumadin). Also discuss any allergies to foods or medications.

A tiny skin incision is made near an artery in your groin. This is the insertion site. You doctor inserts a catheter (thin tube) through the site. He or she then slides the catheter into an artery while viewing a video monitor. Contrast "dye" is injected into the catheter. You may feel warmth or pressure in your legs and back. You lie still as x-rays are taken. The catheter is then removed. Pressure is applied to the site by hand or with a special belt. Afterward, you'll be taken to a recovery area. A doctor or nurse will keep applying pressure to the site for about 10 minutes. You will need to keep your leg still and straight for a few hours. Your doctor will discuss the results with you soon after the procedure.

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