Diseases & Conditions


Abdominal Aortic Angiogram

What is an abdominal aortic angiogram? An abdominal aortic angiogram is a procedure in which the doctor looks at your abdominal aorta by placing dye into the aorta and taking x-rays. The abdominal aorta is part of the main artery going from the heart to the body. When is it used? This test may be performed to see if the aorta is blocked, narrowed, leaking, or misshapen. Examples of alternatives are: to have a sonogram (ultrasound exam) to have a CT scan to choose not to have treatment, recognizing the risks of your condition. You should ask your doctor about these choices. How do I prepare for an abdominal aortic angiogram? Follow any instructions your doctor may give you. No special preparation is needed for local anesthesia. What happens during the procedure? A radiologist injects some local anesthesia into your groin area. Local anesthesia is a drug that should keep you from feeling pain during placement of the catheter, a long tube used to deliver the dye. The catheter is inserted into one of your arteries and guided to the abdominal aortic artery. The radiologist puts dye into the artery, takes an x-ray, and then removes the catheter. The x-ray shows if the artery is blocked or narrowed and the extent and location of the blockage, narrowing, or deformity. The x-ray may also show signs of renal-vascular disease (disease of the arteries to or in the kidneys). What happens after the procedure? You will remain under close observation for at least 6 hours. To help control bleeding and heal the artery, a nurse will apply firm pressure for about 20 minutes and place an ice pack and a 10-pound sandbag over the puncture site. Avoid all strenuous activity for the rest of the day. Ask your doctor what other steps you should take and when you should come back for a checkup. What are the benefits of this procedure? This procedure will help the doctor make a better diagnosis. What are the risks associated with this procedure? You may have an allergic reaction to the dye, which may cause difficulty in breathing, a drop in blood pressure, unconsciousness, or swelling of the skin. A local anesthesia may not numb the area quite enough and you may feel some minor discomfort. Also, in rare cases, you may have an allergic reaction to the drug used in this type of anesthesia. The dye may injure the kidneys. A blood clot around the catheter may block the artery. The catheter may puncture the artery, making it bleed, or knock some debris off the wall of the artery, causing blockage elsewhere in the artery. You may need surgery to correct any damage. You should ask your doctor how these risks apply to you. When should I call the doctor? Call the doctor immediately if: Your leg or foot becomes cool or cold. The puncture site begins to bleed. Call the doctor during office hours if: You have questions about the procedure or its result. You want to make another appointment.