Carotid Angiography - Mapping Blood Flow to Your Brain

Carotid angiography is a procedure an outpatient procedure that helps find problems in blood vessels leading to your brain. These vessels include the carotid arteries, which supply your brain with blood. The procedure make a "map" of your blood vessels. This map can show narrowing in your arteries. Narrowing can cause numbness, weakness, trouble with speech, or changes in vision. These symptoms may be warning signs of a stroke.

This procedure may be done for the following reasons:

  • The carotid artery may be blocked, narrowed, and/or misshapen. 
  • You have an aneurysm (a weak spot in the artery).

You may receive medicine through an IV (intravenous) line to relax you. You'll also have an injection to numb the insertion site.  A tiny skin incision is made near an artery in your groin.  This is the insertion site. While viewing a monitor, your doctor inserts a catheter (thin tube) into an artery near the site, and slides it up to one of the carotid arteries.  A contrast "dye" is injected into the catheter. You may briefly feel warmth in your face.  You lie still as x-rays are taken.  You may be asked to move your head a few times.  The catheter is then removed. Pressure is applied to the site by hand or with a special belt. Afterward, you'll be taken to a recovery area.  A doctor or nurse will keep applying pressure to the site for about 10 minutes.  You will need to keep your leg still and straight for a few hours.  Your doctor will discuss the results with you soon after the procedure.

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