Pelvic catheter angiogram

How painful is a diagnostic/exploratory angiogram for a pelvic AVM? How long did the recovery take for you and what meds helped with the symptoms (pain)? I have one coming up for them to explore the architecture of my AVM, not to treat yet, and I am terrified.


Hi. I’ve got a brain AVM rather than a pelvic AVM but it is wholly normal to explore these things using a catheter angiogram. So even though the AVM was up in my head, I had a catheter inserted at my groin and navigated all the way up to my brain.

I’d say it is an amazing process and the only bit that actually hurt was that the consultant radiologist had to press down quite hard on the wound he had made in order to help heal after the examination. I am sure everyone else will tell you that this is the bit that hurts. And it does hurt but honestly, it is a perfectly gettable-throughable examination.

If the doc goes in at your groin in the same way as me, you do have to lie flat for (2-4?) hours afterwards to allow the wound to heal before flexing it and walking around etc. And you’re not allowed to drive for a day (might be 2 days, I can’t remember).

When I looked at the insertion site afterwards, I was quite bruised but the actual insertion point is TINY. Honestly, I think there was like a 6mm paper-cut where the catheter had gone in. I was amazed.

The process of examining you means that they navigate the catheter to a place that they want to examine and inject some contrast material to see where it flows, and take x-ray pictures, which you can see on a massive screen. The contrast induces heat or dizziness or other sensations when it is injected in parts of your brain but I’m sure the sensations will be much less elsewhere in the body. You might not feel anything at all.

I am not very good with operations. My first was under general anaesthetic but my second I was awake for. I would say talk to the doctor and nurse about any of your worries. They may offer you something to relax you. I found the second one perfectly ok, and the doc chatted to me and to the nurses all the way through. I tend to feel that having someone tell you “I’m doing this now, you’ll feel warmth here…” is much better than a doc who just does the job and doesn’t explain. So ask the nurses about the process and I am sure you’ll find it perfectly ok apart from that bit of pressing down hard on the wound afterwards.

I can think of much worse ways to spend the day. Honestly it’s ok.

(Hope this helps! :wink:)


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  • Actually, I had an embolisation and I think the bruising was to do with the embolisation operation that I had rather than the angiogram. I don’t think I had any significant bruising after the angio.
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This is SO comforting! Did you have to take any meds (aspirin, etc) to prevent a blood clot or similar?

I wasn’t sure how common it is to just have the exploratory angiogram first without treatment. Because my Radiologist hasn’t treated AVMs before, I thought maybe he is more cautious but it looks like it’s quite common.

Yes, it’s quite possible because then they also use embolising liquids, onyx, etc. so that must create more inflammation in the body.

No meds. Thinners etc are generally contraindicated with a brain AVM, so no. On one of my angiograms, I did get a lump at the insertion site which the doc decided was a clot but not in the artery, so it was left to be reabsorbed.

Angiograms are pretty much guaranteed for exploration works prior to an op and the clearest view of what’s going on, so 100% to be expected. It’s not a wholly insignificant op and does carry risk but I would expect less risk in the pelvic/uterine area than poking around in your brain. The guide for the catheter can tear the artery wall, for example: not at all ideal in your head!

I think the more extensive bruising was in the embolisation, simply because I was in theatre for quite a long time (hours plural) and there would be a whole lot more rummaging around going on with injecting the glue. That’s my assumption. Honestly, I got on fine with both the angio and the embolisation and if someone told me that I needed a further one of either tomorrow, I would be just as ok with it. In fact, I’m far more ok with it having chatted here for the last 5 years than I ever was first time. By far.

You are not alone at all.

Very best wishes,


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