What is recovery like after an angiogram?

February 16, 2010

The x-ray study of the blood vessels is known as angiography. An angiogram is used to make visible the blood vessels under an x-ray through the use of a contrast medium. These procedures are used to diagnose abnormalities of the blood vessels such as blockages or narrowing. Atherosclerosis, heart disease and kidney problems are commonly detected through angiograms. They can also be used to detect aneurysms, tumors, blood clots, malformations of the arteries and veins in the brain and problems with the eye retina. It may even be used prior to neurosurgery to provide the surgeon with an image of the vascular structure of the heart.

In an angiogram, a contrast medium is injected so that the blood vessels become visible to the x-ray. The contrast medium is injected through an arterial puncture which is usually performed in the area of the groin, neck, armpit or inside of the elbow. Once a local anesthetic has been administered to the area, a tiny incision is made and a needle called a stylet is inserted into the artery. Then the stylet is removed and a guide wire is inserted, which is made to travel to the area that needs to be studies. Next a catheter is inserted over the guide wire until it reaches the correct position. The guide wire is then removed and the contrast medium is injected. Through the injection of the medium, images of the blood vessel are obtained. Once the x-rays are complete, the catheter is removed and a dressing is placed on the site of the incision.

The angiogram recovery time is determined by the site of entry. Following the procedure, the individual is taken to the recovery room where he needs to lie flat. Since there is a slight risk of excessive bleeding after an arterial puncture, the individual may need to remain overnight in the hospital. In case of outpatient cases, the individual may be kept under observation for 6 to 12 hours before release. If the puncture was performed in the femoral artery, the individual will be instructed to keep his leg straight and without movement during the period of observation. The individual’s vital signs and the puncture site will be continuously monitored. If there is pain from the puncture, medication may be administered or a cold pack may be placed on the area to alleviate swelling. The puncture site may remain sore for several weeks following the procedure, and a hematoma may develop in the area. Hematomas must be observed closely as they could be indicative of further bleeding in the site.

Submitted by M T on February 16, 2010 at 03:19

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