Cerebral angiography

Cerebral Angiography

Cerebral angiography, also known as cerebral arteriography, is a diagnostic test that uses X-rays to create a series of detailed pictures of the arteries that supply the brain. It is used to diagnose diseases that affect the arteries in the neck and head such as aneurysms or blood vessel malformations. It is also helpful in the diagnosis of stroke, some types of headaches, and certain types of tumors and other conditions that affect the arteries in the brain.

Preparation for Cerebral Angiography

Preparation for a cerebral angiogram typically involves scheduling the test with your doctor, and informing him or her ahead of time of any medications you are taking and any allergies you may have. Depending on the type of test you are undergoing, you may be asked to arrange for a ride home after the test is over. You may also need to avoid eating for several hours prior to the test, and your doctor may ask you to drink a contrast solution before the test to make the images clearer. During the test, you will be asked to lie still for an extended period of time.

Procedure for Cerebral Angiography

During an angiogram, a thin catheter is inserted through an artery in your arm or leg and guided up to the arteries in your neck and head. A contrast agent is then injected through the catheter and blows up the blood vessels so that they are visible on the X-ray images. The images can then be observed on a monitor, allowing the technician to evaluate the condition of the blood vessels. After the procedure, they will be monitored for a period of time before being discharged.

Types of Cerebral Angiography

  • Traditional Cerebral Angiography - This method produces detailed images of the vessels but can be highly invasive and has a risk of bleeding or infection.
  • CT Angiography - This is considered a less invasive type of angiogram and uses a contrast material that is injected through an IV instead of being injected directly into the vessels.
  • MR Angiography - This method does not use radiation and uses a contrast agent that is injected through an IV.

Risks of Cerebral Angiography

As with any medical procedure, there are risks associated with cerebral angiograms. These include bleeding, infection, seizures, and allergic reactions to the contrast material. You may also experience a drop in blood pressure during the procedure, which can cause dizziness or faintness. Other rare but serious complications can include stroke, kidney damage, or reaction to the medication used during the procedure.

When to Get a Cerebral Angiography

Your doctor may recommend a cerebral angiogram if you are experiencing symptoms that could indicate a structural or functional abnormality in the blood vessels of your brain. This includes persistent or recurrent headaches, fainting episodes, changes in vision, stroke symptoms, or unexplained paralysis or weakness. In some cases, a cerebral angiogram may be used to confirm a suspected diagnosis of an aneurysm or blockage in a blood vessel.

Why to Get a Cerebral Angiography

Cerebral angiography is used to obtain detailed images of the arteries in the neck and head that are not visible on a regular X-ray or CT scan. It can provide information about the size, shape, and location of these arteries, as well as any other abnormalities that may be present. It is also useful in diagnosing blood vessel malformations, aneurysms, tumors, and other conditions. In some cases, an angiogram can also be used to determine if a treatment such as surgery or stenting is necessary.