Frequently Asked Questions

Who performs angiograms?

At Lifespan, all angiograms are performed by board-certified radiologists who have completed subspecialty training in vascular and interventional radiology.

What time do I show up at the hospital?

If you are to be admitted to the hospital, arrive at the admitting area at 7 a.m. If you are not to be admitted, your referring physician's office can tell you what time to arrive.

What happens after I arrive at the angiography department?

You will be interviewed by a nurse in the prep and holding unit. The nurse will ask questions about your medical history. It can be helpful to bring a friend or family member to help remember details of your 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. A physician will also speak with you in the prep and holding unit. The doctor will perform a physical examination, ask you questions and explain the angiography procedure in detail and will review the risks and benefits of the procedure and possible alternative therapies. After answering all your questions, you will sign a consent form, a statement that you agree to have the angiographic procedure performed. You will then be brought into the procedure room.

Who will be in the procedure room?

The radiologist will be performing the actual procedure. He/she will have at least one assistant who is also a physician. There will be a specially trained radiology technologist who will run the x-ray equipment. 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 take care of any concerns you have.

What happens during the procedure?

Usually, the catheter is placed into a blood vessel in the upper leg. Occasionally, we will use a vessel in the arm. We cleanse your skin with iodine soap and place a sterile blanket over you. We then use a tiny needle to numb the skin with lidocaine (a drug that resembles Novocain used by dentists). You may feel a mild burning when we inject the lidocaine, 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 the size of a piece of spaghetti. Using the x-ray machine, we advance the catheter into the blood vessel to be studied. Once the catheter is positioned, we inject x-ray contrast and obtain x-rays. Most patients don't feel the contrast; others report a warm feeling when we inject it. 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, we will bring you back to the recovery room. We remove the catheter and put pressure on the site to prevent a large bruise or hematoma from forming. After 15 minutes of compression, it is very important that you lie flat with your legs straight for up to 8 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 then eat a meal. If you are being admitted for overnight stay, you will be transferred to your room. If you are going home, you will remain in the recovery room for up to 8 hours; then discharged to home with written and oral instructions. We will provide phone numbers 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 scan is finished, one of our board-certified radiologists will interpret the study and send a report to your doctor within 24 hours.