Carotid arteries are the arteries in the neck through which blood flows to the head and face of a human body. Carotid angiography is used to identify and measure the blockage in carotid arteries. It helps in determining the need for surgery and predicting the risk of a future stroke to the patient.
What is carotid angiography?
Carotid Angiography is a diagnostic imaging tool that involves inserting a catheter into a blood vessel in the arm or leg and injecting a contrast material through it. An Iodine rich dye is injected through the catheter so that the CT scan of carotid arteries can be done. After scanning, the images are processed using a special computer and software and reviewed in different planes and projections. This method is widely used to identify weakened and narrowed sections of arteries.
How is carotid angiography performed?
A carotid angiography is performed in the following manner:
- Patient’s arm or leg is cleaned and is numbed with a local anesthesia.
- Once numbed, a thin, flexible tube, known as a catheter is inserted into an artery.
- Once the catheter is in place, a dye of iodine is injected in the body through it.
- A CT scan is performed while the contrast dye flows through the blood vessels to various organs of the body.
- The dye is allowed enough time to reach carotid arteries. Then CT scan images capture the degree of narrowing and condition of plaque in those vessels.
Side effects/risks of carotid angiography
- There is always a slight risk of cancer due to excessive exposure to radiation.
- There is a slight risk of allergic reaction from contrast material.
- If contrast material leaks out from the vein and spreads under the skin where the IV is placed, it may damage the skin, blood vessels, and nerves.
Preparation before performing carotid angiography
- Metal accessories should be removed prior to the exam.
- Report of all the medications and allergies should be provided to the radiologist beforehand.
- If the patient is pregnant or breastfeeding, radiologist should be consulted if contrast material is used.
- Intake of anti-inflammatory medicines and blood thinners should be avoided before a stipulated time.
Post-care after carotid angiography
- Fluid intake should be increased for one or two days.
- Strenuous physical activities should be avoided for at least 12 hours.
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