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Complications from Femoral (Leg) Catheterization, Angiogram or Angioplasty

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Comments about nerve damage and/or other complications from the femoral (groin) puncture site that is made during an angiogram or angioplasty.

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Current Postings (30)

• I had a cardiac cath done in left femoral artery yesterday with suture mediated closure. Had to lay flat for 2 hours after and now, I have right sided numbness, no pain. Is this normal?
question about cardiac cath, Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA, July 26, 2014

• Sheri: After the "roto-rooter" Neurosurgeon botched the angiogram, I've had a pseudo-aneurysm and horrible leg pain. My Neuro performed ultrasound guided compression, however, this did not take care of my pain - eating Naproxen several times a day which barely helps. I too have autoimmune disease/Hashimoto Thyroiditis, which my Neuro was aware of. I'm planning to go to the emergency room at a much better hospital tomorrow to see if there is something they will or can do for me. The pain is unbearable and there are multiple areas on my leg which flare beyond the pain. A few days ago I took a pen and placed an X on each spot, then took photos to show "whomever." I am not returning to my Neuro as his office lost my file and mixed part of it with another patient's information, giving me a wrong prescription...this only gets worse and worse...
Sheri Vale, Columbus, Michigan, USA, July 21, 2013

• Determined in North Dakota - We're a bit unclear as to where this stent that you are writing about is located. You mention it was done by a thoracic surgeon, but they don't normally do stenting. Was this in the coronary arteries? Or was it a renal (kidney stent)?
Angioplasty.Org Staff, Angioplasty.Org, July 18, 2013

• Hi, I recently have been told (By 3 Interventionalists) that I have a Misplaced Stent, and it is Causing Significant Problems (Life, Organ, Limb Threatening). The Stent Was Wrongly Placed (It Did Not Move).Last Appointment I was Told that once Symptoms Return, They Will be Removing the Stent, and Replacing the Artery with a Synthetic Graft. YIKES !! This is to be Done at one of the Top Cardiac Hospitals in the US. My Question Is.. How Common is this ? My Stent has been in Place for 9 Years, And only in the Past 2 Years was It Explained to Me That The Stent Should have Never Been Placed, That My Symptoms, and Issues Are The Direct Result of the Stent Placement, Not at all to do with The Original issue. Another Stent had to Be Placed to Keep me from Losing a Kidney (I only have 1), and I Went into Acute Renal Failure (Creatinine Climbed to 6.7) Thankfully That WAS Reversed (Creatinine is Now 1.5). I Didn't Get any Answers til I Figuratively, and Physically Walked Away from the Original Thoracic Surgeon. Needless to say, I am in a Bit of Shock, and Facing a life Threatening Surgery when My Symptoms Return. I have learned Things I Never Truly Wanted to Know!
Determined, Dickinson, North Dakota, USA, July 17, 2013

• Laney from Florida - It may be that a nerve, most likely the femoral nerve which run alongside of the femoral artery, got traumatized in some way by the catheter-based procedure. This is something that may go away with time. If this is your problem, then a neurologist may be able to pinpoint the problem more specifically, since it isn't from a blood clot, and may be able to help with pain relief.
Angioplasty.Org Staff, Angioplasty.Org, July 2, 2013

• I had a heart catheterization in June and felt pain during the procedure. Three times I felt burning going down my leg and pressure in the groin. I now have pain and burning from groin to foot and skin feels numb on the side of my leg. My knee hurts now and my hip hurts. It gets painful and I have difficulty walking at times. I had an ultrasound and no blood clot was found. I was told to go to a neurologist. At this point I am wondering what a neurologist would do to me. I also have fibromyalgia and am allergic to most pain meds. Steroids have had a bad effect on me in the past. This was my 3rd heart cath. First one I had pseudo-aneurysm and had to be treated in ER. 2nd one went okay but this is making my life difficult. I also seem to be having some new issues with my bladder. Could this procedure affect the bladder. Where do I go from here?
Laney, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA, July 2, 2013

• Pain in Overland Park - The fact that you have nerve encroachment in the lumbar area may mean that you had a predisposition to this. Achieving hemostasis (stopping of bleeding) for the femoral approach requires lying flat for several hours and, if you look through some of the comments in this topic, you'll see that people have experienced back pain from that. We would say you might have had a nerve traumatized by the catheter movement, but the fact that it's in your lumbar makes the lying flat a prime suspect. This is one more reason why we have been advocating for the radial wrist approach to catheterization and angioplasty: you are able to stand or sit up immediately after the procedure. Hope you find some pain relief now that it's been diagnosed!
Angioplasty.Org Staff, Angioplasty.Org, June 27, 2013

• I had a heart cath done April 25th 2013. When I got home i had a lot of pain in leg from top of leg to knee. It felt like a big bruise but wasn't bruised. After two weeks my leg muscles went very weak and then started having pain on outside of knee. At 4 weeks I couldn't walk the pain was so bad. My leg was falling out from under me. Went to the ER and they did an ultrasound for a blood clot in the main leg artery and found nothing. Also had a knee x-ray that showed nothing. Referred to DR for MRI. It took two weeks to get into the Dr because I couldn't walk from the parking lot and all the way through the building to get to his office and they couldn't help me get in with a wheelchair or anything. MRI of lumbar area shows nerve encroachment and MRI of knee shows a torn meniscus due to trying to walk like that for 5 weeks. Referred to pain management and they gave me a cortisol shot in the sacroiliac joint to relieve swelling and pressure on the nerves. I have never had any problems with my right leg, hip, etc. and all symptoms started the day of the heart cath. Do they position your leg in some strange way that can put stress on this joint? I've been having groin pain, entire leg pain.
Pain in Overland Park, Overland Park, Kansas, USA, June 27, 2013

• Had an angiogram in Feb 2013, same night experienced searing pain in my groin and foot. The pain became excruciating after 4 days and was rushed to hospital again. After extensive testing they found no pulse in my leg, my blood supply had been cut off & the leg was nearly amputated. I ended up having a fasciectomy to remove the massive blood clot and my leg is in such a bad way...has anyone had a similar experience? and was legal action taken? I have extensive nerve damage and excruciating pain in my ankle and calf when walking not to mention the unsightly 6" scars to both sides of my calf and my groin, that have been left after the emergency surgery!
Patrick, London, United Kingdom, June 12, 2013

• I had a heart cath done in 2011 to check for heart blockage and found no blockage but in the groin area where he cut me is still hurting. About two months afterwards I had a sonogram done on my leg close to the area and found nothing. But it is still hurting and sometimes if I turn the wrong way I almost go to the floor. It feels like a knife jabbing in me and it burns. Everybody that I have talked to that has had one done has not had any problems and I really wish it would go away. By the way, I'm allergic to the IV dye and they used it anyway but gave me meds to counteract it. Any ideas why it still hurts two years later? Thanks.
DebCP from Va, Bassett, Virginia, USA, June 12, 2013

• Need Help in Tucson -- It definitely sounds like you need something, although you don't give much information. We assume you had an angiogram or angioplasty from the leg approach?? And then had vascular surgery to repair a tear? Is this correct?
Angioplasty.Org Staff, Angioplasty.Org, May 31, 2013

• Had bad groin pain and leg pain my groin was cold all the time found out there was a tear in the artery had surgery now pain is worse the surgeon is a liar said my pain has nothing to do with my vascular area.
need help, i care, Tucson, Arizona, USA, May 29, 2013

• Karen in Canada -- Ah, you had an angiogram through the wrist. If it was the the left wrist, there's a slight possibility you might be having a relatively infrequent complication from that, but it sounds as if your problems are elsewhere, especially since you had some symptoms prior to the angiogram. It really is not possible for us to offer medical advice per se. If the angiogram showed no narrowing, and your echocardiogram was also normal, there's not really a more detailed test: a Cardiac CT would not show more about any possible coronary artery blockage than the angiogram did. That being said, women sometimes experience symptoms differently than men. And it's been postulated that coronary disease in women may affect the microvasculature (the very small vessels) more -- something which may not show up on an angiogram. There are anti-anginal drugs which may help. Perhaps you can get a second opinion, perhaps from someone who specializes in women's heart health. But your symptoms may also be completely unrelated to your heart, which is what your doctors are saying.
Angioplasty.Org Staff, Angioplasty.Org, May 27, 2013

• Hello Again. Before the angiogram I had tightness and heavy feeling on my chest. I went for a exercise cardiac stress test. During the test I had arrhythmia and chest pain, they admitted me to ER. I waited for 3 days to get the angiogram, had an echo, chest x-ray and all of them are "normal", yet I left the hospital and have had 100x worse. I had a holter monitor and that was normal. The cardiologist will not see me, and my GP says its not my heart and is ignoring me, even though I requested a CT scan which I am willing to pay for, she sent me for a lung function test (which I could not complete because pushing out air really hurt) and now a barium swallow for hernia. I still cant work, barely can function at all. I have to nap after a shower, I find it difficult to lift a carton of milk. The only thing my GP prescribed was a rescue inhaler. My present symptoms, pain in chest, left side, down arm, up neck, back between shoulder blades, dizzy, nauseated, week, exhausted. (sorry this was a wrist angiogram I didn't realize this was the wrong place to post. Things are much worse and I wish to God I had never got this done. I don't know what to do, please help I just want to get better.
Karen L, Ontario, Canada, May 27, 2013

• Karen in Canada -- You should see your cardiologist about this. We assume your angiogram was done from the femoral (groin) approach (that's the topic you've posted in). If so the pains you describe, which sound like angina, probably have nothing to do with an access site complication. Did you have these pains prior to your angiogram? What were the results of your angiogram? Given that your symptoms sound like angina, that they are significant enough to cause you to miss work, and that, because you were referred for an angiogram, there already was concern that you might be at risk for coronary artery disease, we'd suggest calling your cardiologist and getting his/her diagnostic help here. Let the office know the intensity of your symptoms. And let the Forum know how things go.
Angioplasty.Org Staff, Angioplasty.Org, May 27, 2013

• Please help. I had an angiogram and have been brutally unwell since. I have pain in my left chest, up my neck, down my left arm and in between my shoulder blades on the left side. The pain is worse if I try to lift anything or raise blood pressure (like in breathing out hard). I am usually very strong and healthy. I am exhausted, dizzy and nauseated most of the time. I am afraid I will never get my health back, I am only 50, and at this time unable to work. Please tell me which tests to ask for or what I can do to make this better. I am grateful for any advise.
Karen L, Ontario, Canada, May 27, 2013

• dst1966 and others -- It's terrible to read accounts like these. And while it's true that all medical procedures have complications, and serious complications with the femoral (groin) approach are low (5% or less), we are always trying to inform patients of the latest advances in this field. One is the transradial approach to angiograms and procedures, where the catheter is inserted through the radial artery in the wrist. It takes specialized training, but it's a technique used throughout the rest of the world more than half of the time; in the U.S. it's only used in 15-20% of cases (only 5 years ago it was 2%!). The radial approach can reduce these types of complications. Nothing is absolutely complication-proof, but the studies done to date show a definite reduction, especially in bleeding complications which are virtually zero. You can read more about the radial approach in our Transradial Center. With our Radial Hospital Locator you can find a hospital/doctor who practices this technique
Angioplasty.Org Staff, Angioplasty.Org, May 24, 2013

• I had a cardiac ablation done in May 2012. five holes were torn in my femoral artery and I bled out over 7 units of blood into my right thigh over the next 27 hours. I was complaining about pain in my leg for the entire 27 hours, but nobody believed me. They thought I was just wanting pain medicine. They also didn't notice that my H&H levels had fallen to 6.8, at which point I was going in and out of consciousness, and I was in stage 4 hypovolemic shock. I had compartment syndrome in the right thigh. I had a vascular surgeon repair the artery tears and remove a 1.5 liter blood clot, and later two AV fistulas. I have NO sensation on the inside of my right leg at all. I have moderate in my right hip and leg CONSTANTLY (3-4 out of 10). I experience stabbing, tingling, burning, and aching sensations several times per hour every day. I have been to three neurologists and three pain clinics including the Cleveland Clinic. To answer your question about ever getting out of pain, I have been able to barely manage daily with Norco 10/325, but it simply takes the edge off and after a few days makes me feel like crap. I hope you all find something that works for you.
dst1966, Hurricane, West Virginia, USA, May 24, 2013

• Had an angiogram yesterday. They discovered I had no Blockage and I was good to go. Today I woke up with severe pain in the inserted site, pain on my left side and severe pain in my stomach. Is this normal? It feels worse as the day goes by.. been off my feet since but still in pain
Emma R, patient, Brooklyn, New York, USA, May 9, 2013

• Had heart attack in December 2012, had angiogram through right femoral artery, noticed within hours pain in hip, groin and all down leg on standing or sitting. Been in pain since, can't go back to work yet as i am on my feet all the time with job. Cant walk more than 50 metres without limping and calf muscle cramping up, and numbness. Don't sleep well, as leg is painful, seen vascular surgeon who is arranging MRI scan and maybe surgery to repair damage. I'm only 45 yrs old, so am frustrated and upset about this situation, reading these comments on here, shows there are significant risks when doing these procedures. Feel useless now, as i had an active job and could walk more, hope vascular surgeon can help me without killing me...
Tracey, Southport, England, May 1, 2013

• Dear Daddy's Girl in Illinois -- Sorry to hear of these problems. We can't and don't give medical advice, but we'd suggest specifically discussing this with the interventional cardiologist or radiologist who did the procedure. Sounds like a large hematoma formed due to a possible dissection in the artery. Possibly consult a vascular surgeon.
Angioplasty.Org Staff, Angioplasty.Org, April 10, 2013

• My 71 yr old Father recently had a stent placed in his right iliac artery. They went in through the left side to put this in. We were told he would be like he was 25 yrs old again when he healed from this procedure! The nurses injured him when pulling out the sheath. He bruised from his groin to his back down his legs and his private parts even parts of his abdomen. He has has severe pain ever since then. His right leg and foot are extremely swollen. Very tender to touch even. Several tests, blood work, ultrasounds, CT scans..NO CLUE what is wrong! Treated for cellulitis for 2 weeks and then told no cellulitis! NO DVT's, No Gout, Excellent blood flow with venous return...MEDICAL MYSTERY! HELP IF YOU CAN...REFER IF YOU CAN PLEASE..Most recent diagnosis....Compartment Syndrome! Swelling decreases through the night when sleeping and elevated. This is not normal for Compartment Syndrome...Dr wants to do fasciotomy...Dad says "NO WAY!" I want my dad back..well and painfree...PLEASE HELP US.
Daddy's Girl, Aurora, Illinois, USA, April 8, 2013

• Maggie May in Kentucky -- You are describing a hematoma, and a relatively large one at that (greater than 10 cm). A hematoma is the most common complication after femoral angiography, but in this 2005 study, the incidence of large hematomas such as yours was only 1.3% -- 1 out of 100 is not exactly "normal." There have been many studies of femoral complications, but even the highest complication rates were less than 10%. And pain that prevents you from walking after two weeks is also not normal.

And Mary 777 in Boston -- yours is a complicated case and we really cannot give medical advice. It is possible that the lower back pain may simply be from the the fact that you have to lay flat for an extended period of time when the femoral approach is used...and that can result in back pain. As for the groin pain, there's a possibility that the femoral nerve suffered some trauma during the intervention. Perhaps a neurologist could diagnose the source?
Angioplasty.Org Staff, Angioplasty.Org, April 8, 2013

• I had an angiogram 10 days ago...my whole thigh was black and blue to the knee..now after 10 days, I have a lump in the area which the Doctor said is normal..plus still I cannot walk, without limping...I have very bad pain down my thigh, leg and to my hip..is this normal? to be hurting this bad for this long?
Maggie May, Retired, Hebron, Kentucky, USA, April 8, 2013

• Feb 12 had 2 wall stent put in left common iliac vein. After surgery had terrible lower back pain and pain in groin-lower back pain persisted for about 2 weeks then almost suddenly back pain was gone but then noticed the original symptoms that brought me to have stent placed returned (pain in left leg and discoloration) Dr. did CAT scan - said two stents collapsed and they went in. Left groin again and put a stent between the two to keep them from collapsing. Two days later symptoms returned they did usg and said the left common iliac vein is still patent- my surgeon said the persistent pain and discoloration in leg is probably because valves are shot- he said he could not explain the pain in left groin, lower back and left buttocks- since then pain has increased in groin and lower back and left flank. I don't present w a fever (my body never has low grade fevers - other things have been missed until very late because of this phenomenon (appendicitis at age 4 but didn't have fever until appendix ruptured and fever skyrocketed lucky I lived) I'm concerned I might have stent infection - history of 2 DVTs- have prothrombin gene mutation and may thurner syndrome. Could groin pain be from surg?
Mary 777, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, March 17, 2013

• I had the cath through the right groin. Was having pain afterwards and Dr. had an ultrasound done and everything turned out okay, but I am still having pain in the groin area, any suggestions on what is happening with this and long does it take to heal.
Kitty S., Washington, Georgia, USA, March 10, 2013

• To all -- most posts in this topic involve either bleeding complications (which include hematomas -- black and blue bruises near the groin insertion site) or what seem like nerve problems. In caths and interventional procedures (PCI) the complication rates are relatively low in the 4-6% range -- major complications are much lower. However, no complication is low if you happen to be the complication! You should definitely report these problems to your interventional cardiologist -- the physician who performed the procedure. He/she may be able to help, but your interventionalist also needs to hear the feedback about any complications that have occurred -- because complications often do not manifest until AFTER the patient leaves the hospital and the problems are dealt with by the patient's personal doctor, or a clinical cardiologist. In other words, the interventional cardiologist may never know about the complication. If this feedback is gotten, procedures may be changed or refined to reduce future problems for others. If you read our section on the Transradial Approach (through the wrist, not the groin) you'll hear from a number of cardiologists who have switched to the wrist, in order to lower bleeding complications and nerve injuries.
Angioplasty.Org Staff, Angioplasty.Org, February 3, 2013

• I had a cath procedure done in 2006 through my left leg and up to this point i still feel a sharp pain and lately i find it even difficult to drive. the pain occurrence seems to have increased than in the past. Doc who did the procedure said nothing seemed wrong. is this normal?
Meg, South Africa, January 30, 2013

• I had angiogram 2/12/12 ended up with large groin hematoma and scrotum and penis were enlarged and completely bruised. I know have neuropathy in both feet and live in extreme pain 24 hrs a day. During the beginning of my procedure the doctors assistant said oh no, and i asked what was wrong and the Dr. Said everything is ok, well something happened and its a year later and i live in chronic pain. So if i have femoral nerve damage will it ever get better? What should i do?
Steve O'Brien, Sparks, Nevada, USA, January 22, 2013

• I had a cardiac catheterization done in February 2005 due to a false positive on the nuclear portion. I never got a second opinion! Immediately after the procedure I experienced pain in my right groin pain, area of insertion. I never needed surgery before, nurses said I probably had a panic attack in the middle of the night which is what led me to see a Dr in the first place. Pain was hard to withstand. Dr said I better pay my outstanding bill $300. Then he would help me. He sent me to a vascular surgeon who gave me lidocaine to treat nerve, he paralyzed me, 24 hrs, no feeling in my right leg...they had to drive me home! When I think back, I get so mad...It's just this nagging pain. MRI shows no tear. Now I need a hip replacement, you guessed it, in the same right leg. They say I have no cartilage left there...I was always athletic, I'm tall nag fairly thin...am I being paranoid to think they caused necrosis during the procedure?
Cath.hip, Lakewood, New Jersey, USA, January 7, 2013

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