A cerebral angiography is a type of medical procedure that is designed to monitor the blood flow throughout the brain. In order to perform this test, a catheter is inserted into an artery, and a specialized type of dye is injected into the catheter. As the dye moves throughout the brain, pictures are taken to help diagnose potential problems such as tumors or aneurysms. Potential risks associated with a cerebral angiography include stroke, blood clots, and damage to the blood vessels. Any questions concerning the benefits or risks of having a cerebral angiography should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.
A doctor may order a cerebral angiography if a tumor, blood clot, or aneurysm is suspected. This test may also be used to diagnose other medical conditions that affect blood flow to the brain, including stroke or arterial malformations. This procedure is normally performed on an outpatient basis, although some doctors like to observe the patient overnight in a hospital setting to make sure no complications arise as a result of the procedure.
In preparation for the cerebral angiography, a small catheter known as an IV is inserted into a vein so that all necessary fluids and medications can be directly introduced into the body. A mild sedative is usually given to help the patient relax, although general anesthesia may be used in some situations. If general anesthesia is not used, a local anesthetic will be injected into the area where the catheter will be inserted for the procedure.
A small incision is made, usually in the leg, and the catheter is inserted into one of the primary arteries and carefully pushed upward and into the brain. Contrast dye is then injected into the catheter so the doctor can monitor the path of blood flow and detect the presence of any blockages or abnormalities. After the procedure has been completed, the catheter is removed and the area of the incision is covered with a surgical dressing.
Complications associated with a cerebral angiography are relatively rare but may include adverse reactions to the anesthesia or the contrast dye used during the procedure. Damage to the blood vessels is possible and can lead to excessive bleeding, sometimes requiring a blood transfusion. There is a slight chance of a stroke being triggered by the procedure as well as a small chance of developing cancer as a result of the radiation used for the test.