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Lower Leg Venography

(Phlebography; Venogram)

Definition

Lower leg venography is an x-ray test to study veins in the legs. A substance called contrast is used with the test. It will make the veins easier to see.

Reasons for Test

Lower leg venography is used to:
  • Diagnose deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Find blockages in the veins
  • Assess vein problems
  • Assess the functioning of deep leg vein valves
  • Find a vein that will be used to make a bypass graft
Deep Vein Thrombosis
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Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over problems that could happen such as:
  • Infection
  • Allergic reactions or kidney damage from the contrast material
  • Tissue damage
  • Inflammation of a vein—phlebitis
  • Blood clots

What to Expect

Prior to Test

The doctor may meet with you to talk about:
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before the test
  • Whether you need a ride to and from the test
  • Fasting before the test, such as avoiding food or drink

Anesthesia

The doctor will use local anesthesia to numb the area. Other medicine may help you relax.

Description of Test

An IV needle will be inserted into a vein in the foot. The contrast will be slowly injected through the needle. A tight band may be tied around the ankle. This helps to fill the veins with contrast. You will be asked to remain still. The doctor will use an x-ray machine to view the contrast moving through the veins. The needle will then be removed. The injection site will be bandaged.

After Test

You may be told to drink extra fluid. This will flush the contrast from your body.

How Long Will It Take?

Usually about 30 minutes, but sometimes longer

Will It Hurt?

There may be some pain at the injection site during the test. There may be some soreness for a few days after. Some feel flushed or nauseous as contrast fills the veins.

Results

A normal venography means blood flow through the vein is normal. An abnormal venography means something is blocking blood flow through the vein. Based on the results, your doctor may talk about more tests or treatment.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have:
  • Signs of infection, such as fever or chills
  • Bleeding, redness, swelling, pain, or discharge at the injection site
  • Itching, rash, or other signs of an allergic reaction
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
Society of Interventional Radiology
https://www.sirweb.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery
https://vascular.ca
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
http://www.heartandstroke.ca

References

Do C. Intravenous contrast: friend or foe? A review on contrast-induced nephropathy. Adv Chronic Kidney Dis. 2017;24(3):147-149.
Evaluation of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/evaluation/evaluation-of-deep-vein-thrombosis-dvt. Accessed September 8, 2021.
Venogram. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/venogram. Accessed September 8, 2021.
Venogram - leg. Icahn School of Medicine—Mount Sinai website. Available at: https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/tests/venogram-leg. Accessed September 8, 2021.
Venography. Radiology Info—Radiologic Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/venography. Accessed September 8, 2021.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA
  • Review Date: 07/2021
  • Update Date: 09/08/2021