Search the Health Library
Get the facts on diseases, conditions, tests and procedures.
I Want To...
I Want To...
Find Research Faculty
Enter the last name, specialty or keyword for your search below.
School of Medicine
I Want to...
What is a renal arteriogram?
A renal arteriogram is a special type of X-ray picture that helps doctors see the blood vessels in your kidneys.
Why is it necessary?
This exam is used for patients who have high blood pressure that may be caused by a kidney problem. It also is helpful in patients who may have a kidney artery that is closed or whose arteries are inflamed.
How is it done?
This procedure is performed by a doctor, a radiologist, who is assisted by specially trained nurses and technologists. Using a needle, the doctor inserts a thin wire into a large artery in the groin area. This wire is used to guide a small tube called a catheter into the large artery leading to your kidneys. Once the catheter is in place, the X-ray dye is injected through the catheter and X-rays are taken of the arteries.
What should you expect?
Before the procedure
- You must not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure except for your normal medications. Your doctor or nurse will tell you if you should stop taking any of your medications prior to the procedure.
- You need to bring a list of all your medications with you to the hospital.
- Please tell the doctor if you think you may be pregnant.
- A nurse will place an IV in your hand or arm so that you can receive fluids and medications.
- Your doctor will answer your questions and ask you to sign a consent form.
During the procedure
- You will lie on an x-ray table with machines all around you. You will have a blood pressure cuff on your arm, a clip on your finger to make sure you are getting enough oxygen, and wires on your legs and arms to check your heart rate.
- The nurse will give you pain medication and a sedative, which will help you relax, before the procedure. The nurse will give you more medication if needed. You will feel relaxed, but you will be awake so that you can follow instructions.
- The area where the doctor will be working will be cleaned and shaved. You will be covered with sterile drapes from your shoulders to your feet.
- The radiologist will guide the catheter in and inject the dye. The dye may cause a burning feeling in your legs, but it will pass in 20 to 30 seconds. It is important to hold still during this time. You will not feel the catheter move inside your artery.
- The technologist will tell you to hold your breath and stay still during the pictures (about 10 seconds for each picture). The computerized X-ray used in this procedure is very sensitive to motion. The X-ray machine will move above you and come close to you at times, but it will not touch you. Pictures are taken at many different angles.
After the procedure
- You will be taken, with the catheter still in place, to a recovery area in the Cardiovascular Center once the procedure is done. The radiologist or nurse will remove the catheter and hold the site for 15 to 20 minutes to prevent bleeding. If the catheter was in your groin, you will need to lie flat without raising your head or moving your leg for about four hours. Your nurse will help you with eating, drinking and personal care during this time.
- You may eat one hour after the procedure if you have had no problem drinking liquids. You will receive IV fluids to help flush out the dye.
- A nurse will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, and groin site frequently.
- If you are an outpatient, you may leave with a companion after a short recovery period. You will need someone to drive you home.
- Your total length of stay in the Cardiovascular Center will be about eight (8) hours.
After you go home
- You should not drive for 24 hours.
- You should avoid strenuous activity or heavy lifting for one week.
Request an Appointment
Already a Patient?
Traveling for Care?
Whether you're crossing the country or the globe, we make it easy to access world-class care at Johns Hopkins.