What should I expect after an angiogram?

Just as the preparation for each type of angiogram varies slightly, so does the post-procedure.

After most angiograms, you will be taken to the recovery room for observation. A nurse will monitor your vital signs, the injection site, and the circulation and the sensation of the limb where the catheter was inserted.

Now is not the time to make important business calls or plan your next party. Rest, relax, and remain flat in bed in the recovery room for several hours after the procedure. If your groin or an arm site was used, you’ll need to keep the leg or arm on the side of the injection site straight for several hours.

Patient recovery two views

You may be given pain medication if your injection site hurts or if you have any pain related to lying flat and still for a prolonged period. Drink plenty of water and other fluids to help flush the contrast dye from your body.

You should be able to resume your normal diet after the procedure, unless your physician decides otherwise. When you have finished recovering, you’ll either go back to your hospital room or be discharged entirely. If this procedure was performed on an outpatient basis, be safe and plan to have another person drive you home.

Depending on the type of angiogram you had, your doctor might give you slightly different instructions after the procedure. If you had a cerebral angiogram, nurses check your vital signs, the incision site, and it is necessary to lie still with your head flat for six to eight hours. Gradually you’ll be allowed to get out of bed with assistance. Take it slowly – otherwise lightheadedness and dizziness may occur.

When you are released to go home, your ‘at home' instructions will likely include:
1) No heavy lifting, exercise, and driving for 48 hours. Do not operate machinery for at least 24 hours. It is important not to stress your incision/puncture site.

2) During the next 24 hours, drink plenty of fluids to flush the contrast dye from your body. No alcohol or coffee.

3) Resume a regular diet.
Don’t be a hero - if you’re having problems with fever and/or chills; increased pain, redness, swelling, or bleeding or other drainage from the groin injection site; or coolness, numbness and/or tingling, or other changes in any parts of your body, call your doctor.

GOOD SOURCES FOR FURTHER READING: Dictionary of Medical Terms, 4th Edition, from A&C Black Publishers Ltd., Grey's Anatomy, The Classic Collector's Edition, by Henry Gray, Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, Second Edition by Mayo Clinic, Howard Gallager, Mayo Foundation, Women's Healt, Men's Health and Health for Seniors all by Professor Peter Abrahams, the National Cancer Institute, the American Medical Association, the National Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Radiology, National Department of Health and Human Services, The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions

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