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A spinal angiogram is an x-ray study of the blood vessels of the spine. It is usually performed to look for abnormality of the vessels or to treat a vascular tumor or a vascular malformation. With this information your physicians can recommend a course of treatment you need and how it should be performed. The angiogram is a minimally invasive procedure. A catheter (long thin flexible plastic tube) is placed into your leg and is guided through the blood vessels of the body to reach the blood vessels of the spine. An x-ray dye is injected to highlight the vessels simultaneously when films are taken from several angles. The procedure is done in the angiography suite with a special team of physicians, physician assistants, nurses and technologists.
Common reasons to do a spinal angiogram include the following:
Prior to the procedure you will need to give your informed consent. This means you will speak face-to-face with the physician or physician assistant and acknowledge the potential risks and benefits of the procedure. This is also your opportunity to have any questions answered about the procedure. Your physician or physician assistant will explain the risks of spinal angiography in order to investigate your symptoms and plan appropriate treatment.
First the area of your access site (usually the right groin) will be cleaned and shaved. Then you will receive a small dose of pain medication through the IV line during the procedure.
The area where the catheter will be inserted will be numbed. (You may feel a stinging sensation briefly, and numbing the area usually makes the rest of the procedure pain free.) The neuroradiologist then threads the catheter (long flexible plastic tube) through the arterial system to the desired location and then injects the x-ray dye contrast. During your procedure you will not feel the catheter in the artery but as the contrast material is injected, you may have a sense of warmth.
X-rays are taken when the contrast is injected.
After the angiogram is completed, the catheter is removed and the puncture site closed. The incision site can be closed either by manual compression or by using a special closure device.
You will have to lie flat for two to six hours after angiography, depending on the reason for the test, the catheter size, and the type of device used to close up the artery. During this time, you should inform the nurse if you notice any bleeding, bruising, swelling or pain at the site where the catheter entered the skin. Your entire procedure may take between one hour to several hours long.
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