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Hepatic Angiography

Hepatic angiography is an imaging test. It uses X-rays to look at the blood vessels that send blood to your liver. The test uses a thin, flexible tube (catheter). The catheter is put into a blood vessel through a small cut (incision). X-ray dye (contrast medium) is then injected into the catheter. The dye makes your blood vessels show up more clearly on the X-rays. This procedure is usually done by an interventional radiologist. An interventional radiologist is a doctor who is specially trained and certified by the American Board of Radiology to use minimally invasive image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat diseases.

Possible risks

All procedures have some risks. The risks of this test include:

  • Bruising at the insertion site

  • Damage to your artery

  • Problems due to the X-ray dye, such as an allergic reaction or kidney damage 

Getting ready for your procedure

Tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • Are allergic to X-ray dye or other medicines

  • Are breastfeeding

  • Are pregnant or think you may be pregnant

Be sure your healthcare provider knows about any medicines, herbs, or supplements you are taking. You may need to stop taking all or some of these before your test. This includes:

  • All prescription medicines

  • Over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin or ibuprofen

  • Illegal drugs

Follow any directions you are given for not eating or drinking before surgery.

Also make sure to have a family member or friend take you home from the hospital. You won't be able to drive yourself.

During your procedure

  • You will change into a hospital gown and lie on an X-ray table.

  • An IV line will be put in a vein in your arm or hand. You’ll receive fluids and medicines through this IV.

  • You may be given medicine to help you relax and make you sleepy (sedation).

  • You will be given medicine (local anesthesia) to numb the skin near your groin. A guide wire is then put through the skin into a large artery in your thigh (femoral artery).

  • Using "live" X-ray images (fluoroscopy) as a guide, the radiologist will thread the wire through your arteries to your liver. A catheter is then put over the guide wire. The guide wire is then taken out.

  • X-ray dye will be injected into your artery through the catheter. This helps the arteries in your liver show clearly on X-rays.

  • You will have to keep still and sometimes hold your breath while X-ray pictures of your liver are taken. You may need to change position so that images may be taken from different angles.

  • When the test is done, the catheter is taken out. Pressure will be put on the insertion site for 10 to 15 minutes to stop bleeding.

After your procedure

  • You will be asked to lie flat with your leg stretched out for 6 hours to prevent bleeding at the insertion site.

  • You may be able to go home that day. Or you may be asked to stay in the hospital overnight. No matter when you are discharged, you should have a friend or family member drive you home. 

  • Drink plenty of water to help flush the X-ray dye from your body.

  • Care for the insertion site as directed by your healthcare provider.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • A leg that feels cold or looks blue

  • Any unusual bleeding

  • Black or tarry stools

  • Bleeding, bruising, or a large swelling where the catheter was inserted

  • Blood in your urine

  • Constant or increasing pain or numbness in your leg

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Chills

  • Signs of infection at the place where the incision was made (redness, swelling, or warmth)

Call 911

Call 911 if you have shortness of breath.

Online Medical Reviewer: Melinda Murray Ratini DO
Online Medical Reviewer: Neil Grossman MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2022
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