Arteriogram

What is it and how does this test work?

Arteriography is a minimally invasive test in which an arteriogram or “road map” of the arteries is made. An arteriogram looks a lot like an x-ray and is used to plan or guide treatments such as surgery, angioplasty, or stent placement.

How is the exam given?

You will be asked not to eat for several hours prior to the exam so mild sedation can be given safely. You may need to have some simple laboratory blood tests prior to the arteriogram. Your physician will explain the procedure and answer any questions you might have. Then you will go to a room with sophisticated imaging equipment . You will be given medicines through an intravenous line to make you sleepy and comfortable, and a sterile drape will cover you from your chest down. A tiny tube or catheter is then placed into the artery in the upper portion of the thigh after the skin is made numb. The catheter is then steered to its intended destination inside your vascular system using x-rays for guidance. A clear liquid called contrast dye is then injected through the catheter and a series of pictures are taken. You will usually feel a mild warm “flush” when the dye is injected. Pressure will be applied to the groin after the sheath is removed in order to prevent bleeding from the artery.

After the procedure and a short observation period, you may go home. Sometimes if a treatment with a balloon or stent is performed you may stay in the hospital overnight.

How are the results used?

These pictures or images can be used to diagnose the cause of arterial blockage or to precisely guide an angioplasty balloon or stent into place to treat a blockage. The arteriogram may also be used to plan a surgical treatment such as a bypass graft.

What is an angioplasty balloon?

An angioplasty balloon is a tiny balloon mounted on a catheter or small tube. The balloon is positioned into the blocked area of the artery and is used to stretch open the artery. A stent is a tubular scaffolding of metal wire that is also mounted on a small catheter. The stent is placed across a blockage and holds the artery open like the hoops on a barrel. An important difference is that the stent stays in the artery while the balloon is removed from the artery after it is used. For more information on angioplasty click here.