CT Angio Lower Extremity
CT angiogram lower extremity uses a combination of a CT scan and intravenous contrast dye injection to visualize the arteries and veins of your legs. It uses a series of X-rays from different angles and a computer to create detailed images of blood vessels enhanced by the contrast dye. This technique lets the doctor visualize the diseases/conditions affecting blood vessels.
Why and when do you need this test?
You may be advised to undergo this test for any of the following reasons;
- Trauma or injury to the legs (affecting blood vessels)
- Blockages to blood flow
- Atherosclerotic plaques
- Narrowing or hardening of blood vessels (arteriosclerosis)
- Dilatation of the blood vessel (aneurysm)
- Congenital vascular malformations
- Suspected inflammation of the blood vessels
- To look for Blood clots (DVT)
- To check the valves of the veins (in cases of leg swelling)
- Venous insufficiency
- To check the condition of the vessels to be used for bypass grafts
- To guide the insertion of a catheter or taking a biopsy
- Tumors of the blood vessels
Do you need to prepare for the test?
- You will be guided about eating and drinking before the test.
- For the CT scan angiogram, you will be requested to stop eating 3-4 hours before the test.
- You can drink clear fluids and take regular medications normally unless your doctor advises otherwise.
- You would be asked to remove jewelry, metal clips, or any metallic thing that can interfere with the radiation and may affect the image.
- You would be asked to wear easy clothing to feel comfortable or given a hospital gown for the proper exposure of the area.
- CT scan uses X-rays which can be dangerous for the developing baby, so inform the doctor if you are pregnant.
- The contrast to be used for the procedure may have iodine and can cause some allergic reactions or endanger a diseased kidney. Inform your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to iodine, are diabetic, or have kidney disease.
What can you expect?
- The nurse will prick a vein in your hand or arm to establish a cannula to inject the contrast material.
- You will be requested to lie down on the table.
- The table will slide into the CT scan machine that looks like a large donut with a tunnel.
- You would be requested to lie down still and avoid movements to prevent the images from getting blurry.
- The test will last for about 15-20 minutes.
- You may feel a warm flush in your body and a metallic taste in the mouth during the contrast injection, but it will go away soon.
- You may resume your daily activities after the test
- You will be advised to drink plenty of water to flush the contrast out of your body.
Are there any risks to this test?
It is a non-invasive test that uses low doses of X-rays that poses no risks. However, X-rays can harm the baby inside the mother’s womb, so don’t forget to inform your doctor about your pregnancy.
The contrast material used can be harmful to diseased kidneys. Inform your doctor if you have kidney disease.
There is a slight chance of allergic reaction to the contrast material, but it can be controlled through medicines. Inform your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to iodine before.
If you are a diabetic patient and take metformin, inform your doctor, as it may interact with the contrast agent resulting in unwanted and harmful reactions.
What do the test results mean?
The radiologist will send a signed report to your doctor, who will be able to tell you if there is any abnormality seen in the report. The abnormal results may include the following;
- Peripheral artery disease
- Vascular Aneurysms (dilatation or widening of blood vessels)
- Atherosclerosis (formation of fatty plaques inside blood vessels)
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Superficial thrombophlebitis
- Problem with the valves of the veins
- Thromboangiitis obliterans (inflamed and swollen blood vessel disease)
- Arterio-venous malformation
- Vascular tumors in your legs
- Leg angiogram
- MR angiogram lower extremity