Treatments and tests

Venogram

What is a venogram?

A venogram uses injection of a contrast dye and a special type of X-ray called fluoroscopy to take pictures of the veins in your body, mostly your legs or arms.

It is sometimes used to look for blood clots called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). An ultrasound would usually be used to look for DVT but if the results are unclear a venogram is done.

Benefits of a venogram

  • Used for diagnosis to show pictures of inside your veins.
  • Can be used to find a suitable vein for some types of surgery.

Risks of a venogram

Your doctor knows the risks of a venogram and will advise you whether the benefits outweigh any possible risk.

Venograms are not recommended for pregnant women, or people with diabetes or kidney problems.

Possible risks include:

  • Small amount of radiation. The amount of radiation you are exposed to depends on the number of pictures taken and the part of the body being examined.
  • Extremely small chance you could develop cancer in the long term from the radiation.
  • An allergic reaction from the dye. You may have nausea, sneezing, vomiting, itching, hives and dizziness. More serious reactions can occur, but are very rare.
  • Infection at the site of an injection.

If you are at all concerned regarding the risks, talk to your doctor before the examination.

Preparation

  • Bring your referral letter or request form and all X-rays taken in the last 2 years with you.
  • Leave the X-rays with the radiology staff as the doctor may need to look at them. The staff will tell you when these are ready to be picked up.
  • Wear comfortable, loose clothing.
  • Leave all jewellery and valuables at home.
  • You may be asked not to eat or drink for a few hours before the venogram.

Tell your doctor before the scan

  • If you are or may be pregnant.
  • About any medical conditions you have, including kidney disease, bleeding disorders, allergies and asthma.
  • If you are taking blood thinning medications, such as aspirin.

Just before the venogram

  • You will be given a gown to wear during the procedure.
  • You will be asked to remove any metal objects.
  • A pen may be used to mark where your pulses are on the part of your body being looked at.

What happens during a venogram

The staff will ask you to lie on the bed on your back. Staff will put a needle into the part of the body they are looking at.

  • A salt water fluid may be passed through the needle so that it does not become blocked before the dye is injected.

Possible side effects of dye:

  • You may feel a slight coolness and a flushing for a few seconds.
  • Part of your body may feel warm – if this bothers you, tell the staff.

A tight band (tourniquet) may be put on the part of the body they are looking at to control blood flow.

Once you are ready, the staff will go behind a screen or into the next room to start the X-ray machine. They will ask you to be still, and may ask you take a deep breath and hold your breath during the procedure.

When the procedure is finished you will be asked to wait while the staff check the pictures, as you may need more X-rays.

The venogram takes between 30 minutes and an hour, including the time taken to get you ready.

Consent

You have the right to refuse an examination and may do so if you wish. You may be asked to complete a consent form.

When will I get the results?

The amount of time it takes for you to get your results will differ depending on where you get your scans done. The radiology doctor will look at the pictures and write a report. The pictures may be on films or on a CD.

Ask whether you should wait to take the pictures and report with you, or whether they will be sent to your doctor.

Your doctor will need to discuss the report with you. You will need to make an appointment to do this.

After a venogram

After the venogram the staff will check your breathing and heart rate, and blood pressure a few times. Staff will also check the temperature, colour and sensation in the part of your body that the dye was injected into.

If you had dye

  • Staff will need to take out the needle if it is still in your arm.
  • Staff will give you any special instructions.
  • The dye will pass out of your body in your urine. You will not notice it as it is colourless.
  • Drink plenty of fluid to help get rid of the dye.

You will be able to go soon after the venogram is finished and can usually continue with normal activities. The radiology doctor will tell you if there are any special instructions.

If you had a sedative

  • Staff will need to take out the needle if it is still in your arm.
  • You must not drive a car or take public transport for 24 hours afterwards.
  • You must have someone with you for 24 hours afterwards.
  • You must not operate machinery for the rest of the day.

Costs of a venogram

For an Australian patient in a public hospital in Western Australia:

  • public patient – no cost to you unless advised otherwise
  • private patient – costs can be claimed through Medicare and your health insurance provider

For a patient in a private hospital or private imaging site in Western Australia – ask your doctor or the staff where you are having your test done.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

See also

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