Lower Extremity Arteriograms


Lower extremity angiography is a test that uses X-rays and contrast dye to see the arteries that carry blood to the legs. It’s used to look for narrowed or blocked areas in leg arteries that can cause leg pain when walking.



What happens during this test:

  • Thread a small tube (catheter) into your leg artery.
  • Inject contrast dye.
  • View X-ray images on a video screen.

A lower extremity angiogram is done in the hospital or an outpatient clinic.


Before imaging, you’re given an injection of a numbing medicine (local anesthetic). You may also receive a sedative through an intravenous (IV) line to help you relax.

We insert a hollow needle into an artery in your groin and exchange it for a plastic tube (catheter). A second smaller catheter is passed through the first catheter and into the artery. You may feel pressure as the catheter moves.

Next, we inject a small amount of special dye (contrast material) into the catheter. The dye may cause a brief feeling of warmth. X-ray images appear on a video screen as the contrast dye flows through your leg arteries. This helps us view any narrowed or blocked areas.

We may treat a narrowed or blocked area during the procedure. Typically, a small balloon (angioplasty) or tube (stent) can be used to improve blood flow. The doctor (interventional radiologist) will talk with you about this possibility before your procedure.

The test usually takes 1 hour or longer to complete.