What is a venogram?

A venogram, also known as venography, is an x-ray exam that is performed to examine the health of the veins — typically in your legs.

During a venogram, your doctor will inject a contrast dye into the vessels to examine how blood is flowing through your veins.

Who is a candidate for a venogram?

Your doctor may order a venogram if he or she:

  • Suspects you have a deep vein thrombosis or a blood clot
  • Wants to evaluate vein problems from your birth
  • Needs to find a vein for bypass graft surgery
  • Needs to find the cause of pain in your legs
  • Needs to determine where a blood clot started

You are not a candidate for this procedure if you are allergic to dye or iodine substances or if you are pregnant.

If you have diabetes, asthma or kidney problems, inform your doctor so he or she can determine if you are a candidate for the procedure.

What to expect during a venogram?

During a venogram, your doctor will use a local anesthesia to numb the area where the catheter will be inserted — typically the foot. The doctor will insert a needle with an IV line into a vessel and inject dye through the line, into the vein.

As the dye travels through the vessel, your doctor will take x-ray photos to determine the health of your veins.

Once your doctor has all the images he or she needs, he will remove the needle and dress the insertion site.

Risks of a venogram

Although venograms are relatively safe procedures, some people do experience complications such as:

  • Pain or discomfort when the needle is inserted into the vein or if the vein needs to be inserted deeper inside the vein
  • Reaction to the dye used during the x-ray — this could be in the form of hives, itchiness, redness, soreness, headache, nausea and vomiting
  • Infection at the needle insertion site
  • Pulmonary embolism (rare)
  • Damaged veins from needle insertion

What do the results of my venogram mean?

If your blood is flowing well through your veins, you have a normal result. If the exam shows a blockage in a vein, you will have an abnormal result.

Abnormal results can occur due to a vein blockage, blood clot, tumor or inflammation in the veins.

Recovery from a venogram

After the test, your medical team will closely monitor your vital signs and the injection site for any abnormal side effects. Once given the approval to go home, you can resume your activities according to your doctor’s orders.

If you experience a high fever (over 101 degrees Fahrenheit), severe pain or swelling at the injection site or bleeding from the injection site, call your doctor right away.

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