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Mesenteric arteriography

Definition

Mesenteric arteriography is an x-ray exam of the blood vessels that supply the abdominal area, including the small and large intestines.

Alternative Names

Abdominal arteriogram; Arteriogram - abdomen

How the test is performed

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

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

The health care provider will shave and clean the groin area. A numbing medicine (anesthetic) is applied, and a needle inserted into an artery. A thin flexible tube called a catheter is passed through the needle, into the artery, and up through the main vessels of the belly area and chest until it is properly placed into a mesenteric artery. The doctor can see live images of the area on a TV-like monitor, and uses them as a guide.

Contrast dye flows through the catheter into the blood vessels. X-ray images are taken. The catheter is occasionally flushed with saline solution containing a drug called heparin to help keep blood in the tube from clotting.

Your pulse, blood pressure, and breathing are monitored during the procedure. After the x-rays are taken, the needle and catheter are withdrawn.

Pressure is immediately applied to the puncture site for 10-15 minutes to stop the bleeding. After that time the area is checked and a tight bandage is applied. The leg should be kept straight for an additional 4 hours after the procedure.

How to prepare for the test

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

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

Tell your health care provider:

  • If you are pregnant
  • If you have ever had any allergic reactions to x-ray contrast material or iodine substances
  • If you are allergic to any medications
  • Which medications you are taking (including any herbal preparations)
  • If you have ever had any bleeding problems

How the test will feel

The x-ray table is hard and cold, but 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 as the catheter is inserted into the artery, and some pressure as it is moved into place.

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

Why the test is performed

This test is done:

  • When endoscopy cannot locate the source of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract
  • When other studies fail to provide enough information about abnormal growths along the intestinal tract
  • To possibly look at blood vessel damage after an abdominal injury

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

Normal Values

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

What abnormal results mean

Abnormal results may be due to

What the risks are

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:

  • Bleeding
  • Blood clot
  • Infection
  • Reaction to the contrast dye

Review Date: 1/13/2009
Reviewed By: Benjamin Taragin M.D. Department of Radiology Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, N.Y. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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