What is an angiogram?
An angiogram is a procedure that uses X-ray contrast to look at the blood vessels (arteries or veins) in your body.
Why do we do it?
When blood vessels are blocked, damaged or abnormal in any way, chest pain, heart attack, stroke, or other problems may occur. Angiography helps your physician determine the source of the problem and the extent of damage to the blood vessel segments that are being examined.
Before the test
Lab work may be needed before the angiogram to determine your blood's ability to clot.
Please follow these guidelines after midnight the night before your test:
Always consult with your primary physician and/or physician requesting this test before discontinuing any medication. Here are some guidelines:
- Do NOT take any aspirin or any products containing aspirin.
- Do NOT take dipyridamole (Persantine®) or warfarin (Coumadin®) within 72 hours before the test, and 24 hours after the test. These medications are often referred to as blood-thinning pills.
- Do not take Plavix® for 5 (five) days prior to the procedure.
- Take all other medications as usual, especially any medications for high blood pressure.
If you have diabetes
- If you are taking rapid-acting (short-acting) insulin, do NOT take on the day of the procedure.
- If you take long-acting insulin, take the usual dose.
- If you take NPH or DETEMIR, take ½ dose.
- If you take 70/30 insulin and your blood sugar is greater than 200, take ½ the AM dose. If your blood sugar is less than 200 hold (do not take) the AM dose.
- Please notify the radiology nurse upon arrival that you are diabetic.
- Do NOT take Glucophage® (metformin hydrochloride) for 48 hours before the test or 48 hours after the test to reduce the risk of kidney complications. Contact your primary care doctor and ask how to best manage your blood sugar over these days.
Eating and drinking
- All patients are to have nothing to eat after midnight the evening prior to their procedure.
- Drink only clear liquids for breakfast the day of your procedure. Clear liquids include clear broth, tea, black coffee and ginger ale.
- NOTE: People who are scheduled to have general anesthesia during the procedure may have nothing to eat or drink after midnight.
On the day of the test
Patients must have a responsible, adult driver to accompany them home upon discharge. This will be verified at time of check in. NOTE: Procedure may be rescheduled in the absence of a responsible driver.
Please do not bring valuables such as jewelry or credit cards.
Please bring a current list of medications and allergies.
You will meet with your physician, and he or she will review further instructions and discuss any questions you may have. The physician will also review your medical history.
In almost all cases, laboratory tests ("blood work") will be needed, and your physician will need to study the results before beginning your angiogram. It may be several hours before the laboratory results are available.
Every effort will be made to perform your test at the scheduled time, but delays do occur. Please understand that at times our department may experience unplanned urgent or emergent patients that require immediate attention. We are committed to excellent service and are working hard at providing on time care in crisis situations. You may want to bring a book or magazine.
During the test
You will be asked to change into a hospital gown.
The test itself will take approximately 2 to 3 hours. Moderate sedation may be given.
During an angiogram, a long slender tube called a catheter is inserted into a large artery (generally, in the groin area).
The catheter is slowly and carefully threaded through the artery until its tip reaches the segment of vessel to be examined by angiography.
A small amount of contrast material is injected into the blood vessel segment through the catheter, and X-rays are taken. The contrast agent enables the blood vessels to appear on the X-ray pictures.
A physician specially trained in angiography studies the X-ray pictures to determine the source of the problem and the extent of damage to the blood vessel segments that are examined.
After the test
You will be monitored for 4 to 6 hours. At that time, the radiology nurse will discuss at-home instructions with you. You will be provided with a written form of these instructions. Please follow these at home.
A radiologist will evaluate you before you are discharged. Then your physician will discuss the test results with you.
If you have diabetes, do NOT take Glucophage (metformin hydrochloride) for 48 hours after the test to reduce the risk of kidney complications.
The evening after the test
We recommend a responsible adult stay with you overnight after your procedure. On occasion, it may be necessary for you to spend the night in the hospital.
Angiography allows your physician to view how blood circulates within vessels at specific locations in the body. This diagnostic test is used to locate the specific source of an abnormality in the neck, kidneys, legs, or other sites.
- Society for Vascular Surgery. Angiogram Accessed 2/13/2014.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What is Coronary Angiography? Accessed 2/13/2014.
- American Heart Association. Answers by Heart: What is a coronary angiogram? Accessed 2/13/2014.
© Copyright 1995-2016 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.
Can't find the health information you’re looking for?
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.This document was last reviewed on: 2/12/2014...#4977