Mesenteric angiography

Definition

Mesenteric angiography is a test used to examine the blood vessels that supply the small and large intestines.

Angiography is an imaging test that uses x-rays and a special dye to see inside the arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart.

Alternative Names

Abdominal arteriogram; Arteriogram - abdomen; Mesenteric angiogram

How the Test is Performed

This test uses x-rays and a special dye called contrast to make blood vessels show up on the images.

This test is usually done in the radiology area in a hospital. You will lie on an x-ray table. You may ask for a sedative if you are anxious about the test.

Certain treatments can be done during this procedure. These items are passed through the catheter to the area in the artery that needs treatment. These include:

After the x-rays or treatments are finished, the catheter is removed. Pressure is immediately applied to the puncture site for 20-45 minutes to stop the bleeding. After that time the area is checked and a tight bandage is applied. The leg is usually kept straight for another 6 hours after the procedure.

How to Prepare for the Test

You should not eat or drink anything for 6 - 8 hours before the test.

You will be asked to wear a hospital gown and sign a consent form for the procedure. Remove jewelry from the area being imaged.

Tell your health care provider:

How the Test Will Feel

The x-ray table is hard and cold. You may ask for a blanket or pillow.

You may feel a brief sting when the numbing medication (anesthetic) is given. You will feel a brief sharp pain and some pressure as the catheter is placed and moved into the artery. Usually you will only feel a sensation of pressure in the groin area.

As the dye is injected, you will feel a warm, flushing sensation. You may have tenderness and bruising at the site of the catheter insertion after the test.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is done:

A mesenteric angiogram may be performed after more sensitive nuclear medicine scans have identified active bleeding. The radiologist can then pinpoint and treat the source.

Normal Results

Results are considered normal if the arteries being examined are normal in appearance.

What Abnormal Results Mean

A common abnormal finding is narrowing and hardening of the arteries that supply the large and small intestine. This is called mesenteric ischemia. The problem occurs when fatty material (plaque) builds up on the walls of your arteries.

Abnormal results may also be due to bleeding in the small and large intestine. This may be caused by:

Other abnormal results may be due to:

Risks

There is some risk of the catheter damaging the artery or knocking loose a piece of the artery wall, which can reduce or block blood flow and lead to tissue death. This is a rare complication.

Other risks include:

References

Jackson JE, Allison DJ, Meaney J. Angiography: Principles, techniques (including CTA and MRA) and complications. In: Grainger RC, Allison D, Dixon AK, eds. Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 6.

Morgan RA, Belli A-M, Munneke G. Peripheral vascular disease. In: Grainger RC, Allison D, Dixon AK, eds. Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 28.


Review Date: 12/10/2012
Reviewed By: Javed Qureshi, MD, American Board of Radiology, Victoria Radiology Associates, Victoria, TX. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, and Stephanie Slon.
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