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Hepatic Angiography

Hepatic angiography is an X-ray study of the blood vessels that supply the liver. The procedure uses a thin, flexible tube (catheter). The catheter is put into a blood vessel through a small cut (incision). A specially trained doctor called an interventional radiologist usually does the procedure.

Liver with arteries inside.

Before the procedure

Follow any instructions you are given on how to get ready, including:

  • Follow any directions you’re given for not eating or drinking before the test.

  • Tell the technologist what medicines, herbs, or supplements you take. Also tell the technologist if you are or may be pregnant, or if you are allergic to X-ray dye (contrast medium) or other medicines.

During the procedure

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

  • An IV (intravenous) line is put into a vein to give you fluids and medicines. You may be given medicine to help you relax and make you sleepy.

  • A local anesthetic may be given to numb the skin near your groin. A guide wire is then put through the skin into the femoral artery.

  • Using X-ray images as a guide, the radiologist threads the wire through the arteries to the liver. A catheter is then put over the guide wire. The guide wire is then taken out.

  • Contrast medium is injected into the artery through the catheter. This helps the arteries in the liver show clearly on X-rays.

  • You will be asked 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 is put on the insertion site for 10 to 15 minutes to stop bleeding.

Possible risks and complications

  • Bruising at insertion site

  • Problems because of contrast medium. These include allergic reaction or kidney damage.

  • Damage to the artery

After the 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. You should have a friend or family member drive you home. 

  • Drink plenty of water to help flush the contrast medium from your body.

  • Care for the insertion site as directed.

  • Call your health care provider if you develop a lump or bleeding at the insertion site.

Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Pierce-Smith, Daphne, RN, MSN, CCRC
Last Review Date: 12/15/2013
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