Key Points about Venogram Examinations for Blood Flow in Veins

  • If your doctor thinks you may have a vein disorder, you may need to undergo a venogram exam.
  • A venogram exam checks your blood flow using an injection of contrast dye into your bloodstream.
  • You should be able to return home the same day as your venogram examination.


A venogram examination is a noninvasive test used to check your veins' blood flow, especially in your legs. This test uses contrast dye and X-ray imaging to capture images of the inside of your body. The contrast dye makes the veins visible so the doctor can see how the blood flows. This test helps doctors diagnose the health of your veins and determine treatment options for vascular diseases, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Candidates for a venogram exam

Cholesterol and plaque can harden and narrow your arteries. When this happens, some people will complain of leg pain. You may need to undergo a venogram exam if your doctor suspects you might have deep vein thrombosis or another problem with your veins. If you have severe congestive heart failure (CHF) or pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs), you may not be able to undergo this test.

Risks associated with a venogram exam

Every procedure has some risk, but with the experience of vascular doctors and the latest technology, risks are minimal. Possible risks or complications of a venogram examination for blood flow in veins include:

  • Allergic reaction to the contrast dye
  • Radiation exposure during pregnancy
  • Small amount of radiation from X-ray

Preparing for a venogram exam

You will likely need to fast (avoid eating or drinking) for about four hours before the exam. You should tell your doctor about all medications, supplements and vitamins you take. Your doctor will let you know if you need to stop taking any of them for some time before the venogram exam. Some medications, such as blood thinners, may cause bleeding at the injection site.

You should leave your valuables – including jewelry – at home. Because a local anesthetic (pain medicine) is given at the site where the catheter is inserted, you should make arrangements for an adult to drive you home after the test.

Expectations from a venogram exam

A venogram exam can be performed while you are admitted to the hospital or on an outpatient basis at a hospital surgical center. You will have to remove your clothing and put on a hospital gown. You’ll lie on your back on an exam table. You may receive sedative medication to help you relax.

To start the test, your doctor will start an intravenous (IV) line in a vein. If the venogram exam is checking the veins in your legs, the IV line will likely be started in your foot. The doctor will then inject contrast dye into the IV line. When the contrast dye is injected, you may have a brief headache, nausea or a flushing sensation. You may feel a warm sensation in the area where the dye is injected.

Your doctor then uses an X-ray machine to capture a series of images of the dye moving through your veins. These images show your doctor how well blood flows through your veins. Once your doctor has captured all the images they need, your doctor will remove the IV and place a bandage over the injection site.

After the test, you will remain in an observation area for an hour or so. A nurse will closely monitor your vital signs and check for any signs of reaction to the contrast dye or sedative medication. Unless you are in the hospital, you will be able to return home the same day as your venogram. Your doctor’s office will call you to schedule a follow-up visit to discuss your exam results and plan the next steps of your treatment.

When to seek care

If you think you may need a venogram exam, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing a cardiologist for more specialized treatment.

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