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Cerebral Angiogram

Cerebral angiography uses a catheter, x-ray imaging guidance, and an injection of contrast material to examine blood vessels in the brain for abnormalities such as aneurysms and disease such as atherosclerosis (plaque). The use of a catheter makes it possible to combine diagnosis and treatment in a single procedure. Cerebral angiography produces very detailed, clear and accurate pictures of blood vessels in the brain and may eliminate the need for surgery.

What to Bring

  • Your physician order (your physician may have already sent this to us)
  • Personal ID
  • Insurance Card
  • Medication List

How to Prepare

  • Nothing to eat or drink after midnight
  • Heart and Blood Pressure medications are acceptable to take with small amounts of water.
  • No pain medications 4 hours prior to procedure so consent can be obtained.
  • A nurse will call you to instruct you whether or not to hold certain blood thinning medications based on your physician’s approval. Typically medications are held as follows, but DO NOT hold unless you are instructed by our nurse or your physician:
    • Hold ASA 10 days prior to procedure.
    • Hold Coumadin and Plavix 5 days prior to procedure.
    • Heparin is usually stopped 2-4 hours prior to procedure
  • Cannot be performed with any IV or Barium contrast procedure.
  • Please inform the nurse or technologist if you are pregnant.
  • If you wear an on-body device (insulin pump, insulin regulators, Neulasta, other chemo/insulin devices, etc.), you must inform your technologist.

What to Expect

  • First, the skin at the groin will be cleaned and shaved.
  • A small dose of pain medication is given through the IV line during the procedure.
  • The skin where the catheter will be placed will be numbed. This may sting briefly but usually makes the rest of the procedure pain free.
  • A catheter is threaded through the arterial system to the desired location and the radiologist injects the contrast (x-ray dye). During the procedure, you will not feel the catheter in the artery but when the contrast material is injected, you may have a sense of warmth.
  • X-rays are taken once the contrast is injected.
  • After the angiogram is completed, the catheter is removed and the puncture site closed. The incision site can be closed either by manual compression or by using a special closure device.
  • You will have to lie flat for 2-6 hours after angiography, depending on the reason for the test, the catheter size, and the type of device used to close up the artery. During this time, you should inform the nurse if you notice any bleeding, bruising, swelling or pain at the site where the catheter entered the skin. The entire procedure may take one to several hours long.

After the Procedure

The interventional nurse will give you specific instructions for care after the procedure.