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  • Frequently Asked Questions About Vascular and Interventional Radiology

    • What do I have to do before the procedure?
      Follow these steps.
    • What time do I show up at the hospital?
      Your referring physician's office will tell you what time to arrive for your appointment. If there are still questions, please phone us at 401-793-4429.
    • What happens after I arrive at The Miriam Hospital?
      You will be directed to the radiology prep and holding area, where you will be interviewed by a nurse who will ask questions about your medical history. Some patients find it helpful to bring along a friend or family member to help remember details of their medical history. A list of medications and their doses is important. The nurse will start an intravenous line in your arm or hand. This will allow us to give you fluid and anesthetic medication.

      When it is time for your procedure you will be brought to the vascular and interventional radiology holding area where a physician or physician assistant will speak with you, perform a physical examination, ask you questions and explain the procedure in detail. The risks and benefits of the procedure will be reviewed as well as possible alternative therapies. After all of your questions have been answered, you will be asked to sign a consent form, a statement that you agree to have the procedure performed. You will then be brought into the procedure room.
    • Who will be in the procedure room ?
      During your procedure, you will hear the voices of many people. A radiologist will be performing the actual procedure, and will have at least one assistant who is also a physician, a physician assistant or special procedures technologist. A specially trained radiologic technologist who will run the x-ray equipment will also be in the room. There will be a nurse in the room at all times. The nurse will place basic monitoring equipment on you and administer the intravenous sedative. During the procedure, the nurse will speak to you frequently, answer any questions and address any concerns you may have.
    • What happens during the angiogram procedure?
      Usually, the catheter is introduced into a blood vessel in the upper leg. Occasionally, we will use a vessel in the arm. The skin is cleansed using aseptic technique and a sterile blanket is placed over you. We then use a tiny needle to numb the skin with lidocaine (a drug that resembles novocaine used by dentists). You may feel a mild burning when we inject the lidocaine medicine, but whatever burns will be numb in just a few seconds. After this, you shouldn't feel any discomfort.

      We then enter the blood vessel near the groin with a small needle and exchange that needle for a catheter. A catheter is a very thin tube that is about the diameter of a piece of spaghetti. Using the x-ray machine, the catheter is advanced into the blood vessel to be studied.

      Once the catheter is positioned, we inject x-ray contrast and obtain x-ray images. Most patients don't feel the contrast; others report a warm feeling during the injection. The average time you will be on the x-ray table for a diagnostic procedure is about an hour and a half.
    • What happens after the procedure?
      After the study is completed, you will be brought back to the radiology holding area. The catheter is removed and we put pressure on the site to prevent a large bruise from forming. It is very important that you lay flat with your legs straight for five hours to allow the blood vessel to heal. Once the effects of sedative medications have worn off, you will be able to drink clear liquids and eat a meal.

      Patients who are admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay will be transferred to their room. Patients going home will remain in the radiology holding area for up to five hours, then discharged to home with written and oral instructions. Phone numbers will be provided for 24-hour-a-day access to an interventional radiologist should you have any questions. You will be unable to drive yourself home, so please make arrangements for a ride home.
    • How will I get the results of the exam?
      After the procedure is finished, one of our board-certified radiologists will interpret the study and send a report to your doctor.