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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Tests and Exams > Cerebral Angiography
      Category : Health Centers > Brain and Nervous System

Cerebral Angiography

Alternate Names : Cerebral Angiogram, Neuroangiography, Neuroangiogram

Overview & Description | Preparation & Expectations | Results and Values

Cerebral angiography is an imaging test used to diagnose problems with the arteries or veins in the neck and brain. This test involves the use of special thin tubes called catheters, an X-ray machine, and a TV system.

Who is a candidate for the test?

A healthcare provider may advise this test for a person who has or is suspected to have one of the following conditions:

  • an injury to the neck or face
  • brain tumor, a growth in the brain that can be either benign, which means noncancerous, or malignant, which means cancerous
  • cerebral aneurysm, which is an abnormal widened area in an artery
  • fracture of the skull or neck
  • head injury
  • seizure disorder, or epilepsy
  • stroke, which is brain damage that results from a lack of oxygen to the brain
  • How is the test performed?

    This test requires that a person lie on a flat platform. The platform is inside a special room that is set up for this test. This room contains cameras, TV screens, and X-ray devices. The doctor who usually performs the procedure is called a radiologist. During the procedure, the doctor and the assistants operate the equipment. A nurse checks the person's vital signs, such as the heart rate and blood pressure, during the exam.

    The doctor must choose an artery where he or she can insert the catheter. An artery in the right groin, called the femoral artery, is usually used. First, the doctor will numb the skin in the groin area with a local anesthetic. Once the skin is numb, the doctor inserts a small needle through the skin and into the artery. The doctor can then insert a catheter into the artery through the small puncture made with the needle. The catheters are very thin devices and are several inches long.

    Once the catheter is in place in the artery, the doctor will advance it into the largest artery in the body, which is called the aorta. This artery connects directly to the heart. The important arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the neck and brain come from the aorta. An X-ray machine is used to help guide the catheter into proper position.

    A special dye called a contrast agent is used to make the arteries more visible. The contrast agent is injected into the catheter and enters the arteries. This allows the arteries to be clearly seen. The X-ray machine can be used to take several pictures as the contrast agent travels through the arteries. The images are projected onto a TV or video screen so that the doctor can see the arteries clearly during the test.

    The doctor usually takes several pictures of the arteries filled with contrast agent from different angles and positions. Usually, several injections of the contrast agent are needed.

    The standard test will typically take less than an hour. In more complex cases, the exam may last for several hours. In some cases, the doctor may see an abnormality during the test that can be corrected during the exam. For example, a procedure called angioplasty is sometimes used to open up clogged arteries. This involves inserting tiny tools through the catheter that can widen or open the area of blockage.


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    Cerebral Angiography: Preparation & Expectations

    Author: Lanita Dawson, MD
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 02/11/02

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