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An arteriogram is an X-ray of the blood vessels. It’s used to look for changes in the blood vessels, such as:
This test is also called angiogram.
For arteriogram, your doctor inserts a catheter into a large blood vessel and injects contrast dye. The contrast dye causes the blood vessels to appear on the X-ray image. This lets the doctor better see the vessel(s) under exam.
Many arteries can be seen on an arteriogram, including those of the legs, kidneys, brain, and heart. A cerebral arteriogram is used to look at the blood vessels of the brain, head, or neck.
For a cerebral arteriogram, a catheter is usually inserted into an artery in the groin. Sometimes, an artery in the arm is used. Rarely, an artery in the neck may need to be used. The groin artery is most commonly used because it’s easier to get to. Once the catheter is inserted, the contrast dye is injected. Next, a series of X-rays are made. These images show the arteries, veins, and capillaries and blood flow in the brain.
This test may be advised when previous tests don’t give enough information.
A cerebral arteriogram is used to look for changes in the blood vessels within or leading to the brain. Such as:
Conditions that cause a displacement of the brain's blood vessels may also be seen. These conditions include:
A cerebral arteriogram may be used to locate or assess clips on blood vessels placed during previous surgical procedures.
There may be other reasons for your doctor to recommend a cerebral arteriogram.
You may want to ask your doctor about the how much radiation is used during the procedure and the risks related to your situation. It’s a good idea to keep a record of your history of radiation exposure, such as previous CT scans and other types of X-rays, so that you can tell your doctor. Risks associated with radiation exposure may be related to the number of X-rays and/or treatments over a long period.
If you are pregnant or think you may be, tell your health care provider. Radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects. If you need to have a cerebral arteriogram, special precautions will be taken to minimize the radiation exposure to the fetus.
There is a risk for an allergic reaction to the dye used for this test. If you are allergic to or sensitive to medications, contrast dye, or iodine, tell your doctor. Also, tell your doctor if you have kidney failure or other kidney problems.
Tell your doctor if you have liver or thyroid conditions. In some cases, this procedure is not advised for people with these conditions.
Tell your doctor if you have a history of bleeding disorders or if you are taking any anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medications, aspirin, or other medications that affect blood clotting. You may need to stop these medications prior to the procedure.
Because the procedure involves the blood vessels and blood flow of the brain, there is a small risk for complications involving the brain. These complications may include:
There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor prior to the procedure.
A cerebral arteriogram may be done on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your doctor's practices.
Generally, a cerebral arteriogram follows this process:
Depending on which site was used for injection of the contrast dye, you will stay flat in bed in a recovery room for several hours after the procedure. If the groin or arm site was used, the leg or arm on that side will be kept straight for up to 12 hours. If the neck was used, you will be watched for signs of hoarseness, breathing problems, or pain/difficulty in swallowing.
A nurse will monitor your vital signs, your neurological signs, and the injection site while you are in the recovery room.
You may be given pain medication for pain or discomfort related to the injection site or pain from having to lie flat and still for a long period.
You will be encouraged to drink water and other fluids to help flush the contrast dye from your body.
You may go back to your usual diet and activities after the procedure, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
When you have completed the recovery period, you may be returned to your hospital room or discharged to your home. If this procedure was done as an outpatient, plan to have another person drive you home.
Once home, check the injection site for bleeding. A small bruise is normal, as is an occasional drop of blood at the site.
If the groin or arm was used, you should monitor the leg or arm for changes in temperature or color, pain, numbness, tingling, or loss of function of the limb.
Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and to help flush out the contrast dye.
You may be advised not to do any strenuous activities or take a hot bath or shower for a period after the procedure.
When to seek medical care
Get prompt medical attention if any of the following occur:
Your doctor may give you other instructions after the procedure, depending on your situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
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