Cerebral angiography uses a catheter, CT scanning machine, and an injection of contrast material to examine blood vessels in the brain for abnormalities. Cerebral angiography produces very accurate pictures of the blood vessels in the brain.
What is cerebral angiography?
Cerebral imaging using CTA is a diagnostic imaging tool that involves inserting a catheter (a thin tube made from medical grade materials) into a blood vessel in the arm and injecting contrast material. An Iodine rich dye is injected through the catheter so that imaging of cerebral 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 the arteries.
How is cerebral angiography performed?
A cerebral angiography is performed in the following manner:
- Patient’s arm is cleaned and is numbed with a local anesthesia.
- Once numbed, a thin, flexible tube, known as a catheter is inserted into an artery.
- After the catheter is in place, a dye of iodine is injected through the catheter.
- 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 cerebral arteries. Then CT scan captures images displaying the condition of vessels.
Side effects/risks of cerebral 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 cerebral 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 a contrast material is used.
- Intake of anti-inflammatory medicines and blood thinners should be stopped for a specific time period before the test.
Post-care after cerebral angiography
- Fluid intake should be increased for one or two days.
- Strenuous physical activities such as climbing, running etc. should be avoided for at least 12 hours.
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