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Vitreoretinal Procedures

Fundus Fluorescein Angiogram

What is an angiogram?

An angiogram is a procedure used in Ophthalmology to photograph the blood vessels of the retina. It involves inserting a needle into a vein, usually in the arm or back of the hand and injecting a diagnostic dye (Flourescein). Photographs of the retina are taken as the dye circulates through the bloodstream. Your Ophthalmologist may require this test to diagnose or monitor your retinal condition.

What is fluorescein?

Fluorescein is a yellow diagnostic dye. The pharmaceutical name is Sodium Fluorescein. You will normally receive 5mL of a 10mg/mL sterile solution, however the Doctor may prescribe up to 10mL or as little as 1mL. Fluorescein is not addictive and does not contain preservatives.

For 24-48 hours after the procedure your skin may appear slightly yellow and your urine will be bright yellow. This is normal, and by drinking plenty of water for 2 days after your procedure you will assist the kidneys to excrete the dye.

Are there any medical conditions or medications that may affect the procedure?

Please inform your Ophthalmologist if you suffer from any condition related to the heart, lungs or kidneys. These conditions do not exclude you from being able to have a fluorescein angiogram but your Ophthalmologist needs to be aware of such conditions.

Your Ophthalmologist should also be aware of your allergies and any medications you are taking.

What are the risks?

The risks associated with injection of fluorescein are low.

The most common side effect is nausea. If you do experience nausea it will occur during first 1-2 minutes after the dye is injected. Please inform the Nurse performing the procedure and she will be able to give you an alcohol swab to sniff which will help relieve the nausea. It normally only lasts 10-30 seconds. In rare cases vomiting may accompany the nausea.

Other adverse reactions include headache, hypotension (low blood pressure), fainting, gastric upset, convulsions, and intense lower back pain. Please inform the Nurse if you experience any of these reactions.

In rare cases patients may suffer an allergic reaction. If the reaction is mild you may break out in hives and feel itchy. In a more severe reaction anaphylaxis and respiratory/cardiac arrest may occur. Although the incidence of this type of reaction is extremely rare our staff are trained in resuscitation and a fully stocked emergency kit is located in each room where the procedure is performed.

As with any intravenous injection there is a small risk that the dye may leak into the tissue rather than being injected into the vein. If this does occur you may experience a burning sensation as the dye is injected and the injection site may be yellow and tender for the next few days. A cold pack may ease the pain and swelling. By drinking lots of water 1-2 days prior to the procedure you will minimize the risk of extravasation (leakage of dye into body tissue).