University of Iowa Department of Neurology
Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed
Creation Date: Unknown
Last Revision Date: June 2000
A Cerebral Angiogram takes detailed x-ray pictures of the blood vessels in your head. A contrast medium will be injected into your blood vessels so that they may be viewed on x-ray film.
What is it?
- it takes x-ray pictures of the blood vessels in your head
- a contrast medium (dye) will be injected into your blood vessels so that they may be viewed on an x-ray film.
How long does it take?
- about 2 to 3 hours
- there is a 6 to 8 hour resting period after the test
- plan on being at the hospital all day
Why is a Cerebral Angiogram performed?
- it determines if there are any abnormal widenings, narrowings, obstructions, malformations, or displacements in your brain's blood vessels
Does it hurt?
- you may experience a hot, uncomfortable sensation in your head as the dye is injected into your blood vessels
- this discomfort lasts from 5 to 20 seconds
Where is it conducted?
- CT/Interventional Area
- 3rd floor of the Colloton Pavillion
How many are performed each year?
What should you do to prepare for the test?
- if you are taking coumadin or aspirin, your doctor will give you specific instructions on how and when to discontinue these medications
- you will have some blood tests taken within ten days of the test
- there are some specific dietary restrictions:
- if your angiogram is scheduled for the morning, you should have no food or drink after midnight the night before the test
- dietary restrictions
- if your test is scheduled for the afternoon, you may have clear liquids after midnight. This may inlcude a liquid breakfast the day of the test, depending on the time it is scheduled. Ask your doctor.
- bring someone who can drive you home after the test, or the procedure will not be done
Preparing for the test
- come to the Neurology Clinic at 7:00 a.m.
- you will be released from the hospital around 5:00 p.m., if no problems are encountered
- the Radiology Department may ask you to stay in the Iowa City area if you have diffculties
What should you be sure to tell your doctor before the test begins?
- if you are a diabetic
- if you hve any history of allergy
- if there is any possibility that you may be pregnant
Before the test
- you will be asked to change into a hospital gown and to empty your bladder
- you may be given a blood test
- you will have an IV started either on the nursing unit or in x-ray. This is done to provide you with additional fluids.
- you will be taken to the procedure room and assisted onto an x-ray table
- the area where a small incision will be made will be cleaned and shaved. This area will usually be your groin.
- a blood pressure cuff, a heart monitor, and a pulse oximeter on the finger will likely be put in place
- a sterile drape will be placed over your chest, stomach, and legs. It is important to keep your arms at your sides.
- to help you remain still, your head will be secured to the examination table with straps
- please inform the nurse or physician if you would like an injection for pain or anxiety. We want you to be comfortable.
During the test
- a small catheter is inserted into an artery through a 1/2 inch incision. An injection of anesthetic (lidocaine) is given to prevent pain.
- a dye will be injected into the catheter
- as the dye travels through your blood vessels, heart, brain, x-rays will be taken very rapidly (several per second)
- during this injection, you may feel a hot, uncomfortable feeling in your head that lasts 5 to 20 seconds.
- you will be given special instructions for breathing while the x-rays are being taken.
- you will be asked not to swallow
- the nurse may occasionally ask you orientation questions, or request that you do simple tasks during the test to monitor how you are feeling
After the test
- the catheter will be removed and pressure applied to the area for about ten minutes so that the artery does not bleed
- you will be asked to lie flat in bed for 6 to 8 hours
- if you need to turn from side to side, you must be assisted
- you must use a bedpan or urinal during this resting period
- your nurse will frequently check your vital signs, the site of the incision, and your pulse
- if you notice any swelling, bleeding, or pain in the area of the incision, notify your nurse immediately
- if you have any trouble breathing, or notice any itching, rash or hives, notify your nurse immediately - these may be early symptoms of an allergic reaction to the dye
- it is common to have a bruise in the area around the catheter site
- drink plenty of fluids to help your kidneys flush out the dye. The IV will be removed once you begin drinking fluids
What can I do afterwards?
- usually, you may eat after the test
- drink fluids
- you may be driven home after the resting period if no problems are encountered
- avoid activities during the next 2 to 3 days that may stress the incision site. Do NOT lift heavy objects or make movements that repeatedly flex the leg at the hip joint
- avoid driving or operating machinery for at lest 24 hours
- you will learn the test results either from your doctor before you leave, or from a copy of a letter sent to your personal physician