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Peripheral angiogram/Angioplasty

A peripheral angiogram is a test that uses X-rays and dye to help your doctor find narrowed or blocked areas in one or more of the arteries that supply blood to your legs. The test is also called a peripheral arteriogram.

Why do people have peripheral angiograms?

Doctors use a peripheral angiogram if they think blood is not flowing well in the arteries leading to your legs or, in rare cases, to your arms. The angiogram helps you and your doctor decide if a surgical procedure is needed to open the blocked arteries. Peripheral angioplasty is one such procedure. It uses a balloon catheter to open the blocked artery from the inside. A stent, a small wire mesh tube, is generally placed in the artery after angioplasty to help keep it open. Bypass surgery is another procedure. It re-routes blood around the blocked arteries.

What are the risks of peripheral angiograms?

Serious risks and complications from peripheral angiograms are very unlikely. But in rare cases:

  • A thin tube (catheter) that doctors insert into your artery during a peripheral angiogram damages the artery.
  • Some people may have allergic reactions to the dye used in the test. Tell your doctor if you have ever had an allergic reaction to x-ray contrast dye or to iodine substances.

How do I prepare for a peripheral angiogram?

  • Your doctor will give you instructions about what you can eat or drink during the 24 hours before the test.
  • Usually you'll be asked not to eat or drink anything for 6 to 8 hours before your peripheral angiogram.
  • Tell your doctor about any medicines (including over-the-counter, herbs and vitamins) you take. He or she may ask you not to take them before your test. Don't stop taking your medicines until your doctor tells you to.
  • Tell your doctor or nurse if you are allergic to anything, especially iodine, latex or rubber products, medicines like penicillin, or X-ray dye.
  • Leave all of your jewelry at home.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home after your angiogram.

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