(Cerebral Angiography, Cerebral Angiogram)
An arteriogram, also called an angiogram, is an X-ray image of the blood vessels. It is performed to evaluate various vascular conditions, such as an aneurysm (ballooning of a blood vessel), stenosis (narrowing of a blood vessel), or blockages.
A cerebral arteriogram is an arteriogram of the blood vessels of the brain.
An arteriogram involves inserting an arterial catheter (a long thin tube) into a large blood vessel and injecting contrast dye. This contrast dye causes the blood vessels to appear opaque on the x-ray image. This allows the doctor to better visualize the structure of the vessel(s) under examination.
Many arteries can be examined by an arteriogram, including the arterial systems of the legs, kidneys, brain, and heart.
For a cerebral arteriogram, arterial access is usually obtained in the femoral artery in the groin. Occasionally, the brachial artery in the arm may be used, and, in very rare instances, the carotid artery in the neck may need to be used. The femoral artery is most commonly used because it is generally easier to access. Once the catheter is inserted, the contrast dye is injected, and a series of X-ray pictures is made. These X-ray images show the arterial, venous, and capillary blood vessel structures and blood flow in the brain.
Other related procedures that may be used to diagnose brain disorders include X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, and computed tomography (CT scan) of the brain. Please see these procedures for additional information.
A cerebral arteriogram may be performed to detect abnormalities of the blood vessels within or leading to the brain. Such abnormalities include aneurysms, stenosis, arteriovenous malformation (a condition in which there is an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins), thrombosis (a blood clot within a blood vessel), vasospasm (a spasm of the blood vessel causing an irregular narrowing of the vessel), or occlusion (complete obstruction of a blood vessel).
Other conditions that cause a displacement of the brain's blood vessels may be detected by a cerebral arteriogram. These conditions include tumors, edema (swelling), herniation (dislocation of the brain tissue, caused by pressure within the brain due to swelling, bleeding, or other reasons), increased intracranial pressure (ICP, or increased pressure within the brain), and hydrocephalus (fluid in the brain).
A cerebral arteriogram may be performed to locate clips on blood vessels placed during previous surgical procedures, and/or to evaluate the condition of such clipped vessels after a clipping procedure.
A cerebral arteriogram may be recommended after a previous test, such as a CT scan, indicates the need for further information that may be obtained by this procedure.
There may be other reasons for your doctor to recommend a cerebral arteriogram.
You may want to ask your doctor about the amount of radiation used during the procedure and the risks related to your particular situation. It is a good idea to keep a record of your past history of radiation exposure, such as previous scans and other types of X-rays, so that you can inform your doctor. Risks associated with radiation exposure may be related to the cumulative number of X-ray examinations and/or treatments over a long period of time.
If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, you should notify your health care provider. Radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects. If it is necessary for you to have a cerebral arteriogram, special precautions will be made to minimize the radiation exposure to the fetus.
There is a risk for allergic reaction to the dye. Patients who are allergic to or sensitive to medications, contrast dye, or iodine should notify their doctor. Also, patients with kidney failure or other kidney problems should notify their doctor.
Patients with liver or thyroid conditions should notify their doctors. In some cases, this procedure is not advised for patients with these conditions.
Notify your doctor if you have a history of bleeding disorders or if you are taking any anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medications, aspirin, or other medications that affect blood clotting. It may be necessary for you to stop these medications prior to the procedure.
Because the procedure involves the blood vessels and blood flow of the brain, there is a small risk for complications involving the brain. These complications may include, but are not limited to, the following:
There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor prior to the procedure.
A cerebral arteriogram may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your doctor's practices.
Generally, a cerebral arteriogram follows this process:
Depending on which site was used for injection of the contrast dye, you will remain flat in bed in a recovery room for several hours after the procedure. If the groin or arm site was used, the leg or arm on the side of the injection site will be kept straight for up to 12 hours. If the neck site was used, you will be monitored for signs of hoarseness, difficulty in breathing, or pain/difficulty in swallowing.
A nurse will monitor your vital signs, your neurological signs, and the injection site while you are in the recovery room.
You may be given pain medication for pain or discomfort related to the injection site or to having to lie flat and still for a prolonged period.
You will be encouraged to drink water and other fluids to help flush the contrast dye from your body.
You may resume your usual diet and activities after the procedure, unless your doctor decides otherwise.
When you have completed the recovery period, you may be returned to your hospital room or discharged to your home. If this procedure was performed as an outpatient, you should plan to have another person drive you home.
Once at home, you should monitor the injection site for bleeding. A small bruise is normal, as is an occasional drop of blood at the site.
If the groin or arm was used, you should monitor the leg or arm for changes in temperature or color, pain, numbness, tingling, or loss of function of the limb.
Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and to help pass the contrast dye.
You may be advised not to do any strenuous activities or take a hot bath or shower for a period of time after the procedure.
Notify your doctor to report any of the following:
Your doctor may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. Please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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