Lower Leg Venography
(Phlebography; Venogram)En Español (Spanish Version)
Definition | Reasons for Test | Possible Complications | What to Expect | Call Your Doctor
Venography is an x-ray test used to study the veins of the body. Lower leg venography is used to study the veins in the legs.
Reasons for Test
This test may be recommended by your doctor in order to:
- Diagnose deep vein thrombosis—a blood clot deep within the leg that may lead to a pulmonary embolism, which is an obstruction of a blood vessel in the lungs
- Find obstructions in the veins
- Assess vein problems you have had since birth
- Assess the functioning of deep leg vein valves
- Find a vein that will be used to make a bypass graft
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Tissue damage
- Phlebitis—inflammation of a vein
- Allergic reactions to the contrast material
- Kidney damage
- Forming blood clots
People with kidney problems or diabetes, especially those taking metformin, may have a higher risk for complications from venography.
What to Expect
You may be asked to fast or drink only clear fluids for four hours before the test. Tell your doctor if you have a history of allergies, or bad reactions to injected contrast. If you are nervous about the test, your doctor may give you a sedative.
Arrange for someone to drive you home.
You will lie on a tilting x-ray table. You will be cleaned in the area where the catheter will be inserted. A small cut in your skin may be made in that area as well. You may be given a local anesthetic to numb the area where the catheter will be inserted.
The catheter is inserted into your vein and the contrast is slowly injected. A tight band may be tied around your ankle or your lower body may be tilted. This helps to fill the veins with contrast. You will be asked to remain still as the doctor uses an x-ray machine to view the movement of the contrast through your veins.
The catheter will be removed and a bandage will be put over the site of the injection.
- When you get home from the test, take it easy for the rest of the day and try to avoid any strenuous activity.
- Drink large amounts of fluid for the next 24 hours to help flush the remaining contrast from your body.
- You may remove the bandage the day after your test.
- Observe the injection site for any swelling, heat, redness, pain, or drainage. The injection area may be sore for a few days.
- If any bleeding or swelling occurs at the injection or puncture site, put pressure on the site for at least 10 minutes.
Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water. Most people are able to return to normal activities the day after the test.
You may feel some pain at the injection site during the test and soreness for a few days after. Some people feel mild discomfort throughout the body, or nausea as the contrast fills the veins.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Society of Interventional Radiology
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Venography. Heart Heathy Women website. Available at: http://www.hearthealthywomen.org/tests-diagnosis/peripheral-vascular-disease/venography.html. Accessed May 20, 2013.
Venography (venogram). Radiologic Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=venography. Updated August 31, 2013. Accessed May 20. 2013.
Last reviewed May 2013 by David N. Smith, MD; Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.