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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 After the x-rays are taken, the needle and catheter are withdrawn.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

  • Angiodysplasia of the colon
  • Bleeding in the upper or lower gastrointestinal track
  • Blood vessel rupture from injury
  • Cirrhosis
  • Growth of abnormal cells

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

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Information developed by A.D.A.M., Inc. regarding tests and test results may not directly correspond with information provided by UCSF Medical Center. Please discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.