Diagnostic Cerebral and Carotid Angiography

All angiographic procedures basically involve the injection of X-ray dye (intravenous contrast) while taking X-ray pictures to outline arteries and veins of the neck and brain.

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The X-ray dye contains iodine and can uncommonly cause kidney problems, especially if you take Metformin for diabetes. If you are allergic to iodine or take Metformin you should inform the person making the appointment for you.

To gain access to the arteries of the head and neck we typically use an artery in the groin (usually the right side). Local anaesthetic is given prior to puncturing the artery and a mild sedative is usually given intravenously.


A small tube (catheter) is manipulated through the arteries with the aid of a guide wire. There is no sensation of any movement of the catheter or guide wire inside the body.

During the injection of X-ray dye it is not uncommon to feel a warm sensation in the face or neck and some people describe seeing flashes or lines during the injection. These sensations are not harmful and resolve rapidly (within 20 seconds) after each injection of X-ray dye.

Before taking the pictures the radiographer will ask you to keep very still and hold your breath so that the pictures are not blurred. This is very important.

Although we perform hundred of these procedures a year and we know from experience that the procedure is very safe, rarely complications can occur. These include stroke, arterial damage (dissection), groin bruising or haematoma, kidney impairment and allergic reactions to the X-ray dye.

Following the procedure you are taken to the recovery bay where the doctor removes a small tube (arterial sheath) which was placed in the artery and presses on groin for 5-10 minutes. Often a small closure device is placed to seal the arterial puncture site. It is tiny and re-absorbable and allows more rapid mobilisation following the angiogram with a lower rate of bruising at the puncture site.

You will then be instructed to keep your leg straight and lie relatively flat for up to 4 hours allowing the artery to form a seal.

Download this file (Cerebral Angiograms Brochure.pdf)Cerebral Angiograms Brochure79 kB2014-02-07 10:35