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During an arteriogram, a special kind of high-contrast dye is injected into the artery closest to the area being studied. Once the dye is in place, the area is x-rayed. The high-contrast dye allows the arteries to be visualized accurately on the x-ray, so that any blockages or abnormalities can be identified. The arteriogram is used to visualize arteries in areas such as the kidney, brain, and heart.
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The Groin Arteriogram
Depending on the requirements of the procedure, it may be the femoral artery in which a catheter is inserted for the injection of dye. The femoral artery is accessed in the groin, so this procedure is usually called a groin angiogram or arteriogram.
The procedure takes between one and three hours, and usually incurs no more than mild discomfort. Following the procedure patients are asked to stay at the hospital for up to six hours for observation and to ensure their safety if complications arise.
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Before undergoing an arteriogram, patients are usually asked to do a number of things to prepare for the procedure. One of the most important is to cease taking anti-clotting drugs such as Warfarin and aspirin several days beforehand. This is important to reduce the risk of bleeding after the procedure. Patients are also advised to take in plenty of fluids in the days before the arteriogram, but to cease eating and drinking several hours before the test is scheduled.
It’s also important to note that there are some risks associated with the procedure. Anyone allergic to iodine may be at risk of a reaction, as this is a component of the high-contrast dye used during the arteriogram. Another possible risk is kidney toxicity, meaning that anyone with kidney problems may be at risk of complications after the procedure. These risks can be accounted for and minimized as long as doctors are aware before the test.
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After a groin arteriogram, patients should avoid heavy physical activity for a couple of days. Extra fluids should be consumed for one or two days, and hot showers or baths should be avoided for around twelve hours. In addition, the limb in which the catheter was inserted should be held extended as much as possible for a couple of days (for example, by resting the leg on a stool when sitting). Patients should also watch for possible complications such as swelling, pain, or bleeding at the catheter insertion site, and numbness, pain, or a feeling of coolness in the leg in which the insertion took place.