Leg Pain

Peripheral artery disease often goes undiagnosed, and the symptoms are sometimes misunderstood. This makes peripheral artery disease of particular concern here in our region. Recognition and appropriate treatment of peripheral artery disease may prevent the formation of ulcers that will not heal and can lead to amputation in some cases.

Symptoms include pain in the muscles of the legs following exertion. Your legs may hurt when walking, but the pain subsides with rest. If you are experiencing leg pain, consult your primary care doctor, who may recommend an angiogram.

During an angiogram, a dye is injected into the arteries in the legs. As the dye progresses, any blockages that may exist will become visible using a small dose of X-ray, and the treatment can begin. Treatment may include balloon angioplasty or stent placement to open the blood vessels. This procedure is done on an outpatient basis, allowing you to be home the same day.

Q: What is catheter angiography?
A: Angiography is a minimally invasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. In catheter angiography, a thin plastic tube, called a catheter, is inserted into an artery through a small puncture in the skin. Once the catheter is guided to the area being examined, a contrast material is injected through the tube and images are captured using a small dose of X-ray.

Q: What should I do to prepare?
A: Ask your doctor any questions you may have about the procedure. Check with your insurance company about preauthorization requirements and arrange to have a friend or family member transport you to and from the Medical Center.

Q: Will I be awake?
A: Yes. You will be given medication through an IV tube to help you relax and local anesthetic, but you will not be asleep.

Q: Where is the test performed?
A: The procedure will be performed in the Cardiac & Vascular Center located on the first floor of the Medical Center.

Q: Will I be able to talk?
A: You will be able to speak, and the nurse and doctors in the room will talk to you.

Q: How long will it take?
A: The length of time this procedure takes depends on the complexity of the case.

Q: What will happen after the procedure?
A: You will return to your room where you will spend two to six hours in bed with your head elevated about 35 degrees. You will be asked to keep your leg straight, and your nurse will help you if you need to change position. A pressure bandage will be placed over the insertion site, which your nurse will check regularly. Your vital signs will also be monitored, and you may have an EKG or blood work done as well. In cases where the wrist is used, your bed rest will be minimal.

Q: When will I be able to eat?
A: You may have something to eat and drink as soon as you return to your room. You’ll receive IV fluids to flush the dye used in the test out of your system, and you’ll be given pain medication if you need it.

Q: Will my activity be restricted?
A: You should not lift anything heavy for 24 to 48 hours. Try to limit the number of times you go up and down stairs and avoid bending as much as possible for 24 hours. Your nurse will go over your instructions in great detail at the time of discharge, and you will be given a copy to take home with you.

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