Caution: If you’ve had an angiogram and now have an Angio-Seal device in your leg (or arm), and you have medical concerns about that device, don’t waste your time reading this article. Call your doctor, or call 911 if you think it’s an emergency situation.
After having what I call a “fake heart attack” — something that was really Kounis Syndrome, also known as allergic angina — I had an angiogram in May, 2016, at which time an Angio-Seal device was used to help seal the hole that was put in my femoral artery after the angiogram.
Update: In 2019 I would have to have a second angiogram procedure with a different cardiologist after having chest pain due to pericarditis. The following text is a summary of my notes about the angiogram recovery process from these two events.
The Angio-Seal device
As I understand it, the Angio-Seal device is used to place a collagen seal around the artery. The collagen is shown in this image, which comes from the link in the previous paragraph:
I think the collagen material is most of the lump that you feel in your leg/groin. (Part of the lump may also be due to swelling.) In my case the cardiologist performed my angiogram by going into my body through the upper-right part of my right leg (the groin area). Unfortunately he went in right in the area where the leg joins the torso (the groin), so any time I bent my leg upwards I had pain/discomfort.
Angio-Seal pain and discomfort
From my own experience, I can tell you that the pain and discomfort lasts several weeks. I document this in the sections below, but event today — more than three weeks after the angiogram — I still prefer to sit in a recliner rather than a normal chair.
Days 1 to 3
The initial pain isn’t bad at all; it’s more long a strong, dull ache, though it also often feels like someone is stabbing me in the thigh with an old plastic Bic pen. What’s worse is that it feels like it’s easy to tweak the AngioSeal, which is very discomforting.
Therefore, during the first three days I laid in bed 18-21 hours a day. This is because of three things:
- As mentioned, when you move, it’s easy to feel like you can tweak the AngioSeal, which is an unpleasant feeling and can also make you concerned that you’ve done something very bad/harmful to yourself
- You don’t feel great after the surgery
- The only comfortable positions are laying down and standing, and standing makes the pain/discomfort worse
My AngioSeal was in the right side of my groin, just above the point where the upper leg joins the hip. Because of this I could only lay on my back or my left side.
When I walked, I walked very, very slow, as the doctors advised. I didn’t wear slippers because (a) it doesn’t feel comfortable to reach down and touch your toes, and (b) I don’t want to trip or slip with my slippers on. During this time I never tried to sit in a chair, and I could only sleep on my back or on my left side.
I also had several periods where I have felt light-headed and/or wanted to vomit. I don’t know if this is a side effect of the angiogram, the pericarditis, or the medicine for the pericarditis.
Late on Day 3 and then on Day 4 I finally started to feel a little better. By the morning of Day 4 I was so well-rested that it became hard to stay in bed. I was probably upright about 6-8 hours today, compared to being upright only 3-4 hours per day for the first three days. I was also able to sit up in bed for a little while, though it eventually made the Angio-Seal area sore. I could not find a comfortable way to sit in a recliner.
On the morning of Day 5 I initially felt very energetic and had little discomfort, but then I ran out of gas and became sore after standing up and walking during the morning.
Days 6 to 10
After those first five days I was able to walk a little more — or maybe I should say that I pushed myself to walk a little more, in part because I needed groceries. When I went to the grocery store I moved very slow, and wore sweatpants (so that the blue jeans that I normally wear wouldn’t rub against my leg/groin).
That was the only time I sat in a normal seated position. I often stood up while working on my computer, or I sat in my recliner, with it open to a pretty wide angle to keep pressure off of the Angio-Seal area.
During this time I continued to sleep only on my back and left side. I tried to sleep on my right side, but I immediately felt pain from the Angio-Seal, so I stopped trying to do that.
After two weeks
Some time after the first two weeks the pain/discomfort improved quite a bit, and I was eventually able to sleep on my right side. At first I only slept for short stretches before I could feel some pain from the Angio-Seal, but now, after three weeks, I am able to sleep normally in any position.
After three weeks
As I write this (after my first angiogram), it’s now 23 days after my angiogram, and while I can still feel discomfort in the Angio-Seal area, it no longer hurts. It’s more like I can feel it, and if anything it’s a very mild pain. The page I linked to states that it can take 60-90 days before the collagen seal goes away completely, but since I can walk at a normal pace and also sleep on my right side, I’m much happier these days.
Update: After my second angiogram and Angio-Seal, the recovery is going much slower. I tweaked something in my leg around Day #20, so now on Day 25 after the angiogram I’m still spending the majority of my time either laying in bed or standing up. I can sit down to drive back and forth to the grocery store, but other than that I’m generally laying down or standing up.
Update 2: Finally on Days 28 and 29 the pain subsided enough that I can generally stand, walk, and lay down on my back and left side without much pain or discomfort. I still get pain when sitting down for more than 10-15 minutes, but hopefully I’ve finally cleared this hurdle.
After five weeks
On Day 35 of the second procedure I was finally able to sit down for 90-120 minutes during the day.