Alternate Names : Cerebral Angiogram, Neuroangiography, Neuroangiogram
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
a growth in the brain that can be either benign, which means noncancerous, or
malignant, which means cancerous
which is an abnormal widened area in an artery
fracture of the skull or neck
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.