What is a cerebral angiography?

What is a cerebral angiography?

Cerebral angiography is a diagnostic test that uses an x-ray. Produce a brain angiogram or an image that can help your doctor find blockages or other abnormalities in the blood vessels of the head and neck. Blockages or abnormalities can cause a stroke or bleeding in the brain.

For this test, a doctor injects a dye into your blood. The contrast material helps X-rays create a clear image of your blood vessels so your doctor can identify any obstructions or abnormalities.


Not all people who may have arterial blockages need a cerebral angiogram. It is usually done only if your doctor needs more information to plan your treatment after other tests. That's because it's invasive and carries some risks.

An angiogram may also be used to help treat some of the conditions that affect the blood vessels of the neck and brain. Cerebral angiography can help diagnose:

  • aneurysm

  • arteriosclerosis

  • arteriovenous malformation

  • Vasculitis, or inflammation of blood vessels.

  • brain tumors

  • blood clots

  • tears in the lining of an artery

Cerebral angiography can also help your doctor determine the cause of certain symptoms, which include:

  • career

  • severe headaches

  • Memory loss

  • confused speech

  • dizziness

  • blurred or double vision

  • weakness or numbness

  • loss of balance or coordination

How to prepare

Talk to your doctor about how you should prepare. You may not be able to eat or drink after midnight before the procedure.

Before the procedure, your doctor may also ask you to stop taking medications that may increase the risk of bleeding. These include:

  • anticoagulants

  • aspirin

  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

If you are breastfeeding, pump your milk before the procedure and do not breastfeed your child again for at least 24 hours. This waiting time will give the contrast material time to leave your body.

Alert your doctor

Tell your doctor if you have certain allergies or medical conditions. Some people are allergic to the contrast material used during the procedure. Tell your doctor if you have any allergies, including allergies to anesthesia or contrast material that is given for CT scans. Your doctor may prescribe antiallergic medications before the test.

Certain diseases and medical conditions can increase your risk of complications during the test. If you have diabetes or kidney disease, the contrast material may cause temporary damage to your kidneys. If you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant, you should ask about radiation exposure during the test.

What to expect during the procedure

Your healthcare team for this test may include a radiologist, a neurosurgeon, or a neurologist who specializes in interventional radiology and a radiology technician.

Most people are sedated before the procedure. Others, especially children, receive general anesthesia. This is because it must be quiet for the test to be effective. Sedation will help you feel relaxed and you may fall asleep.

During the procedure, your head will be stabilized with a strap, tape or bags of sand. It is very important that you stay still during the test.

To begin, your doctor will sterilize an area of ​​the groin. They will insert a catheter (a long, flexible tube) and insert it into the blood vessels and the carotid artery. This is the blood vessel in your neck that carries blood to your brain.

A contrast dye will flow through the catheter and into the artery. From there, it will travel to the blood vessels of your brain. You may have a warm feeling as the contrast dye flows through your body. Then, the doctor will take multiple x-rays of the head and neck. While taking scans, you may be asked to stand still or even hold your breath for a few seconds.

Next, your doctor will remove the catheter and place a dressing over the insertion site. The whole procedure usually takes from one to three hours.

The risks

Cerebral angiography carries some rare but potentially serious risks. They include:

  • stroke (if the catheter loosens the plaque inside a blood vessel)

  • Damage to blood vessels, including puncture of an artery.

  • Blood clots, which can form around the tip of the catheter.

Be sure to discuss all risks carefully with your doctor.

Follow-up after cerebral angiography.

After the procedure, you will go to a recovery room where you will remain motionless for two to six hours before going home. At home, be careful not to lift heavy objects or try too hard for at least a week.

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • signs of a stroke, such as trouble speaking, weakness, numbness, or vision problems

  • Redness and swelling at the catheter insertion site

  • swelling or coldness of the leg or foot

  • Chest pain

  • dizziness

When your results are available, a radiologist will interpret them. Your doctor will share these results with you and analyze the follow-up tests or treatment.

Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/health/cerebral-angiography


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