How Long Does an Angiogram Take?

Blog Post
By South Valley Vascular
April 13, 2023

An angiogram, also known as an arteriogram, is a combination of X-rays meant to examine the blood vessels. This procedure is designed to seek out potential narrowing or blockages. It is a multi-step process that can feel a bit complicated. But, how long does an angiogram take? 

With any medical examination, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. That’s why it can be helpful to educate yourself about what to expect beforehand.

Angiogram: Preparing For The Examination

Before arriving for your examination, make sure to follow these instructions. This is to ensure that your angiogram is as accurate and painless as possible:

  • Have blood work and an EKG completed ahead of time.
  • Inform your doctor if you have any allergies, including to contrast (dye), iodine, tape, latex, or shellfish.
  • Tell your doctor about all the medications you are currently taking.
  • Avoid eating or drinking past midnight the night before your angiogram.
  • Wear comfortable, loose clothing.
  • Don’t bring any valuables with you.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home afterward.

What to Expect During an Angiogram Procedure

What exactly does an angiogram procedure entail? Here’s what patients can expect:

  • Check-in with an RN to go over your paperwork. 
  • The RN will take your vital signs before preparing for the procedure. 
  • An IV will then be placed into your arm to give you fluids and medication when necessary. 
  • With permission, you will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area. Usually, it will be done on a major artery near the groin.
  • A small cut is made over the artery. 
  • A catheter will be placed in your artery. This may be uncomfortable, but should not be painful. 
  • You will then be injected with a contrast (dye). This may create the sensation of needing to pee. This is done to make the blood flowing inside the artery more visible.
  • Then, your doctor will perform multiple x-rays.
  • The full procedure usually takes 1 to 2 hours.

Once the examination is complete, you will need to remain at your doctor's office or hospital for approximately 3 hours. This is to ensure that there are no negative reactions. These reactions include excess bleeding from the cut or complications from the medication. If complications occur, you may be asked to stay overnight.

Potential Treatment:

After the arteriogram is completed, there are several possible treatment options depending on what is discovered. It can take several weeks for the X-rays to be completely analyzed. However, sometimes the issue can be seen immediately and treated. Those immediate treatment options include:

  • If there is a narrowing or blockage found, a balloon (known as an angioplasty), laser, or orbital bur could be administered.
  • A metal cage called a stent could be placed inside your artery to keep it open.

Discharge Instructions:

  • Have a responsible adult with you for the rest of the day. This is to make sure there are no complications. Also, make sure this adult can drive you home.
  • Drink plenty of water for the next 24 hours. The contrast agent (dye) will leave your body through your urine.
  • Avoid actions that require balance, judgment, or coordination for 24 hours. This includes driving, holding sharp objects, or carrying anything heavy.
  • No dietary restrictions are necessary.
  • You may continue taking your usual medications.
  • It is common to experience bruising and soreness for several days afterward. If this occurs, there is no need for concern.

Let South Valley Vascular Help

If you have concerns about your upcoming angiogram, or would like to make an appointment, South Valley Vascular is here to serve. Our trained specialists are ready to help in any of our four locations. Contact us today:

Visalia: (559) 625-4118

Hanford: (559) 825-6204

Porterville: (559) 788-1022

Fresno: (559) 746-9605

Or, feel free to request a consultation online.