Cerebral Angiogram

A Cerebral Angiogram is a diagnostic test performed by radiologists to identify blockages and vascular abnormalities in the blood vessels of the brain and neck. Such blockages are life-threatening if left untreated, but an angiography can locate these defects by injecting a contrast agent into the brain using a catheter through the carotid artery.

What is it? 

Blood clots in the neck and brain are dangerous, and may cause fatal conditions including aneurysms and strokes.  A cerebral angiogram is a minimally-invasive procedure,   where a catheter is inserted into the arteries of the arm, groin, or leg and then guided into the patient’s brain or neck.  A contrast agent injected through the catheter,  reveals blood flow in the brain while images are captured, using radiation (X-rays).  This diagnostic test also detects bulges in blood vessels, blockages of arteries, and irregular blood flow due to tumor growth or other vascular anomalies.  The images acquired through angiography may be viewed as X-rays, or electronically manipulated to create a clear picture of the occluded or abnormal cerebral vasculature.


How to Prepare?

Your physician will instruct you to discontinue certain medications, including NSAIDs or other blood thinners. Exposure to radiation will make this procedure more dangerous for a woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding, so communication with your doctor is important.  Also, tell your doctor if you have been ill recently or have any preexisting medical conditions. You will not be able to eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery.


What happens during the process? 

Children and adults are placed under general anesthesia for this procedure.   After making a small incision in the patient’s groin, leg, or arm, a catheter is inserted and directed to the neck or brain through the carotid artery.  Once the catheter is in position, the contrast material is injected into the blood vessel.  Multiple X-rays are taken as the dye passes through the blood vessels of the brain and neck.    After capturing the images, the catheter is removed, and the incision site is bandaged to prevent further bleeding.


Risk and Complications?

Common risks and complications can include stroke, damage to the blood vessels, blood clots, allergic reaction to the contrast material, kidney damage from the contrast material, and excessive bleeding and infection.



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