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What is a venogram?

A venogram is a diagnostic procedure that uses x-ray to take pictures of the veins (blood vessels) in a specific part of the body. It is performed by an interventional radiologist who injects contrast material into your child’s vein. X-ray images taken during the injection show the inside of the vein. The radiologist is then able to determine the location and nature of any abnormalities of the veins such as blockages, areas of enlargement, or abnormal anatomy.

When might a venogram be needed?

A venogram is needed to gather information about how your child’s blood vessels are working. Since venography is an invasive technique, it is recommended only in specific situations:

  • when precise information regarding veins is required
  • when this precision cannot be adequately provided by a noninvasive imaging technique such as ultrasound

Venography may be done:

  • to investigate thrombosis (blood clots) of the veins in the legs or other parts of the body
  • to investigate malformations of the veins
  • to outline the venous anatomy prior to surgical procedures (such as placement of central venous catheters or hemodialysis fistulas)
  • with a therapeutic procedure that is performed through the same catheter (like angioplasty or thrombolysis — infusion of drugs to dissolve blood clots).

How should I prepare my child for a venogram?

When you schedule the procedure, you will be given instructions regarding the time and place of arrival and dietary preparation.

  • It is helpful to give your child a simple explanation as to why the procedure is needed and assure him that you will be there before and after the procedure.
  • You may want to bring your child’s favorite book, toy, or comforting object to use during waiting times.

No sedation or anesthesia is required for this test, unless it is combined with a therapeutic procedure.

What should I expect when I bring my child to the hospital for a venogram?

When you arrive, please go to the Interventional Radiology check-in desk on the second floor of the main hospital. A patient experience representative will check in your child and verify his registration information.

  • The interventional radiologist will explain the procedure to you and your child.
  • An intravenous line (called an IV) will be started in a vein of the area requiring evaluation by a nurse or anesthesiologist.

What happens during a venogram?

  • The doctor injects a special solution called contrast material through the catheter. When contrast material is injected, the doctor can see your child’s blood vessels under x-ray more clearly.
  • Several x-rays may be taken. Depending on the part of the body being studied, your child may need to hold his breath and keep very still during this part of the procedure.
  • Once the venogram is done, the catheter is taken out. The doctor or nurse covers the area with a bandage and applies pressure to prevent bleeding.

What happens after the venogram?

  • If performed as an isolated procedure, your child will be able to go home or back to the floor.
  • The interventional radiologist will speak with you about the procedure.

Is a venogram safe? Will it hurt?

Venography, when performed by properly trained and experienced physicians, is a safe procedure with no significant long-term side effects. A small proportion of children may have an allergy to iodine based contrast agents. If this is known to be the case in your child, please inform the doctor or nurse prior to the procedure.

The procedure involves placement of a needle or catheter into a vein. The remainder of the examination is not painful, although your child must lie very still during the procedure.

Your child will be exposed to ionizing radiation (x-rays) during the procedure. We believe that the benefit to your child’s health outweighs the exposure that occurs during the percutaneous gastrostomy. Because children are more sensitive to radiation exposure than adults, we have been leaders in adjusting equipment and procedures to deliver the lowest possible dose to young patients.

How do I learn the results of the venogram?

Normally, you will learn the results from your referring physician. The results will be available immediately after the procedure, although, in complex situations, it may require a few hours to completely process and interpret the x-rays.

How Boston Children's Hospital approaches venography

Our pediatric interventional radiologists, the doctors who do the procedure, are highly trained and experienced in the advanced techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of certain disorders of blood vessels in children and infants.

In addition to the interventional radiologist, your child will be cared for by a team of anesthesiologists, nurse practitioners, nurses, and technologists who specialize in caring for children undergoing interventional radiology procedures and treatments.

We perform venograms in our suite on the second floor of the hospital, which features three procedure rooms equipped with the latest imaging technology, a recovery area for patients who have received sedation or anesthesia, and examining rooms for outpatient visits.

Venography | Programs & Services