Cerebral angiography is done in the hospital or radiology center.
- You lie on an x-ray table.
- Your head is held still using a strap, tape, or sandbags, so you DO NOT move it during the procedure.
- Before the test starts, you are given a mild sedative to help you relax.
- An electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors your heart activity during the test. Sticky patches, called leads, will be placed on your arms and legs. Wires connect the leads to the ECG machine.
An area of your body, usually the groin, is cleaned and numbed with a local numbing medicine (anesthetic). A thin, hollow tube called a catheter is placed through an artery. The catheter is carefully moved up through the main blood vessels in the belly area and chest into an artery in the neck. X-rays help the doctor guide the catheter to the correct position.
Once the catheter is in place, the dye is sent through the catheter. X-ray images are taken to see how the dye moves through the artery and blood vessels of the brain. The dye helps highlight any blockages in blood flow.
Sometimes, a computer removes the bones and tissues on the images being viewed, so that only the blood vessels filled with the dye are seen. This is called digital subtraction angiography (DSA).
After the x-rays are taken, the catheter is withdrawn. Pressure is applied on the leg at the site of insertion for 10 to 15 minutes to stop the bleeding or a device is used to close the tiny hole. A tight bandage is then applied. Your leg should be kept straight for 2 to 6 hours after the procedure. Watch the area for bleeding for at least the next 12 hours. In rare cases, a wrist artery is used instead of the groin artery.
Angiography with a catheter is used less often now. This is because MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) and CT angiography give clearer images.