An angiogram allows a specially trained radiologist to demonstrate and treat pathology in any artery or vein in the body. The procedure involves the use of special thin tubes called catheters and an x-ray machine.
Cerebral angiography is used to diagnose problems with the arteries or veins in the neck and brain. This test is often used if you have or are suspected of having a cerebral aneurysm, fracture of the skull or neck, head injury or stroke.
First, the radiologist will numb your skin in the groin area with a local anesthetic after which a small needle is inserted into the artery and a catheter advanced to the desired position using real-time x-ray guidance.
A special dye is injected via the catheter and allows the arteries to be clearly seen and imaged.
The standard test will typically take less than an hour. In more complex cases, the exam may last for several hours especially if the radiologist sees an abnormality that can be corrected during the exam.
After the procedure:
Immediately after the procedure, pressure is applied to the catheter insertion site in the groin or arm for 10 to 20 minutes to allow it to seal and prevent bleeding.
Sometimes a special closure device is used. You may be instructed to stay in bed for several hours after the angiogram to be monitored for any complications such as bleeding from the puncture site.
On your return home, it is advisable not to lift anything heavy for a few days, to avoid any pressure on the incision and to drink plenty of water to help flush the dye out of your system. You may also be instructed not to take a bath for a few days, though showers are fine.