Venography is a test that lets your healthcare provider see the veins in your body, especially in your legs. A special dye is injected into veins that can be seen on an X-ray. The dye lets your healthcare provider see your veins and how healthy they are. Venography is used to diagnose deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or other abnormalities of your veins.
Venography is one type of X-ray procedure.

Why it’s done

  • Venography is used to confirm a diagnosis of blood clots in deep veins of the legs. It can also be used to find out where a blood clot started that has traveled to a lung. It is also used to tell if a vein problem is a blood clot or another kind of blockage.
  • It can be used to look at vein problems present at birth (congenital) or to find a vein for bypass graft surgery.
  • It may be used to find out what is causing swelling or pain in a leg.


A venogram is done with X-rays. These use a small amount of radiation. Talk with your healthcare provider about the amount of radiation used and any risks that apply to you.
Consider writing down all X-rays you get, including past scans and X-rays for other health reasons. Show this list to your provider. The risks of radiation exposure may be tied to the number of X-rays you have and the X-ray treatments you have over time.
Tell your provider if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant. Radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects.
Because contrast dye is used, there is a risk for allergic reaction to the dye. Tell your healthcare provider if you are allergic to or sensitive to any medicines, contrast dye, or iodine.

How you prepare

Medical history 

Tell your provider if you have:
  • Kidney failure or other kidney problems. In some cases, the contrast dye can cause kidney failure, especially if you are taking certain diabetes medicines.
  • A bleeding disorder or are taking blood-thinning medicine (anticoagulant), aspirin, or other medicines that affect blood clotting.
  • You may not be able to have a venogram if you are allergic to the contrast dye, or have severe congestive heart failure or severe pulmonary hypertension.

What you can expect

  • Your healthcare provider will explain the procedure to you. Ask him or her any questions you have about the procedure.
  • You may be asked to stop eating and drinking for at least 4 hours before the test.
  • You will need to have someone drive you home after the test if the healthcare provider gives you medicine to relax (sedative) during the test.
You may have the venogram done as an outpatient or as part of your stay in a hospital. The way the test is done may vary depending on your condition and your healthcare provider’s practices. 

During the procedure 

Generally, a lower leg venogram follows this process:
  • You will be asked to remove your jewelry or other objects that might get in the way of the test.
  • You will be asked to remove clothing. You will be given a gown to wear.
  • The healthcare provider may use a pen to mark places on your leg where pulses are before the test. This will make it easier for the medical team to check the pulses after the test.
  • You will lie on your back on the X-ray table.
  • The healthcare provider will clean an area on your foot. Then he or she will put an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your foot.
  • The healthcare provider will inject the contrast dye. You may feel some effects when the dye is added to the IV line. These effects include a flushing sensation, a brief headache, nausea, or vomiting. These effects usually last for a few moments. Let the healthcare provider know if you are having problems breathing, itchy skin, or hives.
  • The healthcare provider will take X-rays at timed intervals as the dye moves through your legs.
  • The healthcare provider may use a tourniquet on your leg to control how fast the blood flows.
  • When the test is done, the healthcare provider will flush the IV site, and remove the needle from the vein.
  • The healthcare provider will put a pressure dressing over the puncture site.
Some things may make your venogram less accurate. These include:
  • Moving your leg during the procedure
  • Extreme obesity
  • Severe swelling in your legs

After the procedure

After the procedure, the medical team will watch your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. They will also check the pulses in your feet, as well as the temperature, color, and sensation in your legs. They will watch the injection site for redness, warmth, swelling, and tenderness.
You can go back to your normal activities and diet as directed by your healthcare provider.
Drink plenty of fluids to keep from getting dehydrated. This will also help the contrast dye to leave your body.
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:
  • Fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher or chills
  • Pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site
  • Bleeding or other drainage from the injection site

Venography of Pelvic Veins

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