HF 4598

Arteriogram Interventional Radiology Preparation and Home Care

Your doctor has scheduled an arteriogram to be done by our Interventional Radiologist on                            at               am/pm. This handout explains the test and how to prepare for it. Our clinic will contact you to answer any questions you may have.

What is an arteriogram?

It is a test that includes a series of x-ray pictures that are shown in real time on tv screens in an x-ray room. We use contrast (x-ray dye) to take the pictures. The contrast allows the doctor to see how blood flows through the blood vessels (arteries) in certain parts of the body.

Why do I need this test?

We use this test to check the blood flow through an artery. Your doctor may want you to have the test to check blood flow before surgery or to look for an area of blockage.

How to Prepare 

  1. If you take a blood thinner such as Coumadin® (warfarin), aspirin, Persantin®, or Plavix® please contact the doctor who prescribes this for you before your test. Most people must stop this type of medicine several days before the test.

  2. Please make plans to have someone drive you home after the test. You should not drive or make important decisions for 24 hours after the test. 

  3. You should have someone stay with you that night, just in case any problems occur and you need medical care right away.

  4. The morning of the test do not eat solid foods 6 hours before the exam. You may drink clear liquids (fluid you can see through) until 4 hours before the exam.

  5. If you are taking insulin we will need to know what kind you take so we can tell you how much to take the morning of the test. Most often, if you take long acting insulin in the morning, you should take ½ the dose on the morning of the test. Most often, if you take short acting insulin in the morning, you should take not take it.

  6. If you take Glucophage® (metformin) for diabetes you should not take this the day of the test and for 48 hours after the test.

  7. Take your other prescribed oral medicine on schedule the day of the test with a sip of water. 

  8. If you are pregnant or think you may be, please tell the x-ray staff.

  9. Tell the x-ray staff if you have any allergies to x-ray dyes, iodine, seafood, anesthetic agents, latex, or any other medicines that you may have taken before. Also, tell the x-ray staff if you have kidney problems.

The Test

You will arrive at the Radiology Prep area. Before the test, our radiologist will talk with you about the test and ask you for your consent to do it. An IV catheter will be inserted into your vein to give you fluids. A nurse will listen to your heart and lungs to make sure you can safely be sedated for the test. A urinary catheter will be inserted into your bladder to drain urine since you will not be able to get up to go to the bathroom during or right away after the test.

You will be taken to the radiology suite. The test will take at least one hour. Before the procedure, the skin over your right or left groin will be washed with a special soap. Sometimes we need to shave the area, too. We will cover you with sterile drapes to help prevent infection. The doctors will also wear sterile gowns and masks.

The test is performed through a small tube (about the size of spaghetti or smaller) that is inserted into the artery in your groin area. The skin around the groin site will be numbed with a local numbing medicine so you will have little pain during the test. We will give you some medicine to sedate you give you pain medicine if you do have any pain. Patients may feel pressure at the groin site when the tube is inserted into the artery.

We will inject x-ray dye into the blood stream through the tube in the artery. The doctor will take pictures of how the x-ray dye flows through your blood vessels. During the injection of the dye you may have a warm, flushed feeling. This feeling is normal. We will also ask you to hold your breath at certain times so there is no motion on the x-ray films.

After the Test

After we take all the pictures we need, the doctor will remove the tube from the artery and will apply pressure at the groin site for 10-15 minutes. We will place a bandage on the puncture site. 

We will take you to recovery where nurses will check the groin site for bleeding or swelling. They will also be checking your vital signs and pulses in your legs. You will need to lie flat and keep the leg with the puncture site straight for 4-6 hours after the test. You will be allowed to eat and drink soon after the test is done.


  • Bleeding from the groin puncture site.

  • Allergy to x-ray dye.

  • Damage to kidneys from x-ray dye.

  • Damage to the artery where the catheter tube is inserted.

Before You Go Home

  • Have the nurse or doctor show you and your family how to apply direct pressure to the site.

  • Write down the date the doctor says you can return to work:_________.

  • Write down the date the doctor says you can resume driving: _________.

Care at Home

  • If you have bleeding at the site, apply direct pressure and go to the nearest emergency room.

  • Keep your leg (with puncture site) straight when sitting and lying down for the first 24 hours.

  • No heavy lifting (more than 10 pounds) for 24 hours after the test.

  • No vigorous activity or straining (riding a bicycle, golfing, or doing sit-ups) for 1 week after the test. Walking on a flat surface for exercise is best during the first week.

  • Push fluids after the test to flush the dye from your system. Drink at least 8 glasses of liquid for the first 24 hours. You should not drink alcohol the first day. You may eat whatever you like.

  • Keep the puncture site covered with a Band-Aid® and dry for 24 hours. After that, you can remove the Band-Aid® and shower or bathe. Put a clean Band-Aid® over the site each day for the next 3 days.

  • Do not sit in a bathtub, hot tub, or go swimming for 1 week or until the site is healed.

What to Expect

  • Soreness or tenderness at the site that may last up to a week.

  • Mild oozing of blood from the site but should not soak more than two dressing changes.

  • Bruising at the site that may take 2 to 3 weeks to go away.

  • A small lump which may be dime or quarter sized which may last up to 6 weeks.

Pain Control

You should feel little pain at home. If you do have soreness in the groin area, you may take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®) 325 mg tablets every 4 – 6 hours. Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen. 

You may place an ice pack or warm pack over the site for 20 minutes every 2 hours.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you notice any signs of infection which may include:

  • Redness or swelling of the puncture site

  • Foul smelling yellowish or greenish drainage from the puncture site

  • Fever over 100.4° for two readings taken a few hours apart

  • A very large bruise under and around the puncture site which is firm to the touch

  • Severe pain or spasms in the leg

  • Numbness or tingling in foot or leg

  • Loss of motion in foot or leg

  • Itching or hives on any part of your body

  • Uncontrolled nausea or vomiting

Phone Numbers

If you have any questions or problems once you are home, call Interventional Radiology (608) 263-9729, prompt 3, during the day (8:30 am to 5:30 pm).

After hours, nights, weekends, and holidays, please call (608) 262-2122. This will give you the paging operator. Ask for the Interventional Radiologist on call. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.

Toll Free Number: (800) 323-8942.