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Alternative namesVertebral angiogram; Angiography - head; Carotid angiogram
DefinitionThe arteries are not normally seen in an X-ray , so a contrast dye is injected into one or more arteries to make them visible. For the cerebral angiography, the contrast dye is injected into one or both of the carotid and/or vertebral arteries that are in the neck.
How the test is performed
This test is done in the hospital. You will be asked to lie on the X-ray table. Your head is positioned and immobilized by using a strap, tape, or sandbags. Electrocardiogram (ECG) leads are taped to your arms and legs to monitor your heart during the test.
The area where the contrast dye will be injected is shaved and cleansed. The site is usually in the leg. You are given a local anesthetic, the artery is punctured, and a needle is inserted into the artery.
The contrast dye is then injected into the neck area through the catheter, and the X-ray pictures are taken. The catheter is kept open by flushing it periodically with a saline solution containing heparin, which will keep the blood in the catheter from clotting. Your pulse, blood pressure, and breathing are monitored during the procedure.
Digital Subtraction Angiography (DSI) uses a computer to "subtract" out the bones and tissues in the region viewed such that only the vessels filled with contrast are seen.
How to prepare for the test
The physical and psychological preparation you can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on your child's age, interests, previous experiences, and level of trust. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics as they correspond to your child's age:
How the test will feelThe X-ray table may be hard and cold, but you may ask for a blanket or pillow. There is a brief sting when the local anesthetic is given. This does not numb the artery, so there will be brief, sharp pain as the catheter is inserted into the artery. There is a slight feeling of pressure as the catheter is advanced.
As the dye is injected, there may be a warmth or burning sensation. You may experience a slight headache or feel flushed on the side of the face. There may be slight tenderness and bruising at the site of the injection after the test.
Why the test is performedThe test is most frequently used to confirm cases of stroke , tumor , bulging of the artery walls, a clot , a narrowing of the arteries, and to evaluate the arteries of the head and neck before a corrective surgery. It is used to get more exact information after something abnormal has been detected by an MRI or CT scan of the head such as bleeding within the brain.
What abnormal results meanIf the contrast dye flows out of the blood vessel, it may indicate internal bleeding. Narrowed arteries may suggest cholesterol deposits, a spasm, or inherited disorders. If the vessels are displaced, it may be caused by tumors or bleeding within the skull, aneurysm (bulging of the artery walls), or malformation.
Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:
What the risks are
There is the possibility of significant complications:
Notify your health care provider immediately if you have:
Update Date: 4/22/2003Benjamin Taragin, M.D., Department of Radiology, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, NY. Review Provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT