Get exclusive member benefits & effect social change. Join Today
An arteriography helps your doctor understand how your arteries function and if there are any problems, such as blood clots, injured blood vessels, or an artery disease. Arterio refers to arteries, and graphy refers to the process of recording something.
During an arteriography, your doctor injects dye into your arteries. They then take X-ray images. The dye shows up in the images, allowing your doctor to see any blockage or narrowing in your arteries.
In extremity arteriography, your doctor examines the arteries in your extremities. These are your hands, feet, arms, or legs. In some cases, you might hear a more specific term, such as lower-extremity arteriography (LEA), which involves your feet or legs. Upper-extremity arteriography involves your hands or arms.
Your doctor might order this test if they suspect that you have a blocked or narrowed blood vessel in your hand, foot, arm, or leg. Possible symptoms include:
Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant. Low-levels of radiation during the X-ray can be dangerous for a developing fetus.
Your doctor will tell you not to eat or drink anything for a certain period of time before the test. This is typically six to eight hours.
Make sure your doctor knows all of the medications you’re taking. They might require that you temporarily stop taking some of them before the procedure.
Let your doctor know if you have any bleeding problems, or if you’ve experienced allergic reactions to:
At the hospital, you will need to sign a consent form. You must also change into a hospital gown and remove jewelry from the area being examined.
You will lie on your back on an X-ray table. Your doctor will clean a section of skin. They might also shave this area, which is often in the groin.
You will receive an injection of numbing medicine in the cleaned area. This injection might sting, but will stop you from feeling worse pain during the procedure.
Your doctor will then insert a needle into an artery. They will thread a thin tube through this needle. From there, they will guide the tube (called a catheter) through your artery to the area to be examined.
After positioning the catheter, your doctor will inject a special dye. They will take X-ray images as the dye flows through your arteries. The contrast material shows up on the X-rays, which help your doctor see any problems in your arteries.
During this test, your doctor may be able to immediately fix the problem. Some treatments your doctor might choose to perform during the procedure include:
Any time you get an X-ray, you receive some low-level radiation exposure. However, these levels of radiation aren’t generally dangerous. If you’re pregnant or breast-feeding, talk to your doctor before undergoing an X-ray. Even low-levels of radiation can be dangerous for a developing fetus or a baby who is breast-feeding.
Other possible risks, while rare, include:
Your doctor will apply pressure to the insertion site for 10 to 15 minutes after the procedure. This should help stop the bleeding.
Keep the leg nearest the insertion site straight for six hours after the needle has been removed. If the insertion was in one of your arms instead of your groin, keep that arm straight.
Don’t lift anything heavy or perform any other strenuous activity for one to two full days after your procedure.
This procedure can reveal several issues with your arteries and blood vessels. These include:
Your doctor will review your X-ray images and discuss the results, as well as any necessary treatments, with you.
Written by: Gretchen Holm
Medically reviewed on: Mar 16, 2016: Mark R. Laflamme, MD
Enter your symptoms in our Symptom Checker to find out possible causes of your symptoms. Go.
Enter any list of prescription drugs and see how they interact with each other and with other substances. Go.
Enter its color and shape information, and this tool helps you identify it. Go.
Find information on drug interactions, side effects, and more. Go.