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Extremity angiography, or peripheral angiography is a test used to see the arteries in the hands, arms, feet, or legs.
Angiography is an imaging test that uses x-rays and a special dye to see inside the arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart.
Angiography/arteriography of the extremity; Peripheral angiography; Lower extremity angiogram; Peripheral angiogram
Extremity angiography is done in a special unit of a hospital. You will lie on an x-ray table. You may ask for a sedative if you are anxious about the test.
The health care provider will shave and clean an area, usually in the groin.
Certain treatments can be done during this procedure. Items are passed through the catheter to the area in the artery that needs treatment. These treatments include:
After the x-rays are taken, the catheter is removed. Pressure is immediately applied at the site of insertion for 10 - 15 minutes to stop the bleeding. After that time, the area is checked and a bandage is applied.
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 - 48 hours.
You should not eat or drink anything for 6 - 8 hours before the test.
You may be told to stop taking certain medications such as aspirin or other blood thinners for a short while before the test. However, do NOT stop taking any medicines unless told to do so by your health care provider. Make sure your health care provider knows about all medications you are taking, including all over-the-counter and herbal preparations.
You will be asked to wear a hospital gown and sign a consent form. Remove jewelry from the area being studied.
Tell your health care provider:
The x-ray table is hard and cold, so you may want to ask for a blanket or pillow. There is a sting when the numbing medicine is injected. You may also feel some pressure as the catheter is positioned.
The dye can cause a feeling of warmth and flushing. This is normal and usually goes away in a few seconds.
You may have tenderness and bruising at the site of the catheter insertion after the test. If you have swelling, bleeding that doesn't go away, or severe pain in an arm or leg, seek immediate medical care.
The test is done when someone has 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 the age of the patient.
The most common abnormal finding is narrowing and hardening of the arteries in the arms or legs due to plaque build-up (hardening of the arteries) in the artery walls.
The x-ray may show a blockage in the vessels caused by the following:
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 is smaller than other risks we take every day. Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of the x-ray.
Jackson JE, Allison DJ, Meaney J. Angiography: Principles, techniques (including CTA and MRA) and complications. In: Grainger RC, Allison D, Dixon AK, eds. Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 6.
Morgan RA, Belli A-M, Munneke G. Peripheral vascular disease. In: In: Grainger RC, Allison D, Dixon AK, eds. Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 28.