What Is a Leg Venogram?
also called lower extremity venography or phlebography, offers a way for your
doctor to visualize the veins in your legs. Veins don’t normally show up on plain
X-rays. In a venogram, your doctor injects a special kind of dye into your
veins. This dye, called contrast
material, is visible on X-rays. It allows your doctor to take images of
the veins in your leg.
Your doctor might choose to perform this procedure to find out if
there are blood clots in your leg veins or if your veins are damaged or not
functioning properly. Your doctor might also order a leg venogram to locate a
particular vein or find out why your leg is swollen or painful.
Preparing for a Leg Venogram
You must tell your doctor about various conditions before you
undergo this procedure. It’s especially critical that you tell your doctor if you
have allergies to medications, dye, or iodine substances. You should also tell your
- you’re pregnant or breast-feeding
- you have a history of bleeding problems or
- you have asthma
- you have diabetes
- you’re taking metformin
You should also make sure that your doctor knows about any prescription
or over-the-counter medications you’re taking, particularly aspirin or other
Leg Venogram Procedure
During a leg venogram, the following will occur:
- You’ll change into a hospital gown and then lie
down on an X-ray table.
- Your doctor will typically numb an area on your
- They’ll then insert a needle connected to an
intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your foot.
- Dye will flow through this line into your vein. They’ll
take X-rays as the dye travels up your leg. Because the dye shows up on X-rays,
your doctor will be able to gain a better understanding of what’s happening in
- After your doctor has taken all the needed X-rays,
they’ll typically inject saline solution into your IV line. This helps flush
out the contrast material.
- They’ll then remove the IV line and needle.
- Then, they’ll dress the puncture site on your
foot with a bandage.
Risks of a Leg Venogram
You may experience a variety of uncomfortable or unpleasant
sensations during your leg venogram. These are typically not serious and
usually last for only a few minutes.
You may feel pain when the intravenous line is inserted into the
vein on your foot, even though the area has been numbed.
In some cases, your doctor might tie a tourniquet around your leg
to force the dye into deeper veins. Depending on how tightly the tourniquet is
tied, it may cause some discomfort.
Reaction to Contrast Dye
Possible reactions to the contrast dye include:
- a flushing sensation
- a brief headache
- lip or tongue swelling
- hives or another skin rash
In rare cases, the contrast material may make you feel itchy,
give you hives, or cause difficulty breathing. Tell your doctor if you
experience any of these three symptoms. You might be having an allergic
Tell your doctor if you think you could be pregnant. Any X-ray
involves low-level radiation exposure. This isn’t generally dangerous, but it could
be an issue for young children or pregnant women.
You might develop an infection at the puncture site on your foot.
Your veins may become damaged from the insertion of the catheter.
Other risks include:
- kidney failure
- creation or worsening of a blood clot
In very rare cases, an existing blood clot may break loose during
the procedure and travel to your lungs. This can cause a pulmonary embolism, which is a
blockage of one or more lung arteries.
What Do Leg Venogram Results Mean?
A normal leg venogram shows your blood flowing freely through the
veins in your leg.
An abnormal result shows blockage in one or more of your veins.
This blockage may be caused by a blood clot. Other possible causes include a
tumor or inflammation.
Your doctor will be able to give you more specific information
about any abnormal results on your leg venogram.