Home Health A-Z Cerebral Angiogram : Why is it Prescribed, Procedure and Preparation

Cerebral Angiogram : Why is it Prescribed, Procedure and Preparation

Verified By Apollo Doctors April 6, 2023 1404 0
Cerebral Angiogram : Why is it Prescribed, Procedure and Preparation
Cerebral Angiogram : Why is it Prescribed, Procedure and Preparation


The advancements in the healthcare sector offer various tests and procedures to enable proper diagnosis. This blog is a comprehensive guide to the procedure of cerebral angiography. Read the blog to understand when you need a cerebral angiogram, how to prepare for it, and what to expect during and after the procedure. 

What is a Cerebral Angiogram?

A cerebral angiogram is an X-ray of your brain taken during cerebral angiography. A cerebral angiography examines the arteries in your brain to look for any anomalies. Cerebral angiography is the procedure, and cerebral angiogram is the X-ray itself. Often, these phrases are used interchangeably. 

A catheter (a long thin, flexible tube) is inserted into an artery in the arm or leg during cerebral angiography. A technician injects a particular dye through the catheter into the blood arteries leading to the brain. An X-ray scans the brain during cerebral angiography to reveal anomalies in the blood vessels.

Cerebral angiography typically follows the discovery of an abnormality by another test. Typically, the procedure is used to detect a stroke

When is Cerebral Angiography prescribed?

Before surgery, your doctor may advise you to do a cerebral angiography to evaluate issues, find or identify abnormalities etc. Doctors recommend this test to provide a definitive diagnosis when earlier tests fail. Cerebral angiography can identify several blood vessel anomalies, including:

  • Blood clots
  • Spasm of a blood vessel
  • Complete blood vessel blockage
  • Bulging of blood vessels
  • Narrowing of blood vessels
  • A build-up of plaque in the blood vessels, known as atherosclerosis
  • Inflammations that cause narrowing
  • An abnormal tangle of vessels

How to Prepare for Cerebral Angiography?

Your healthcare provider will describe the procedure and ask you to sign a consent document. If you are taking blood thinners, are pregnant, have a history of bleeding disorders, have any allergies or sensitivities, or are allergic to any medications or substances, be sure to let your doctor know. 

Your doctor may also ask you to fast before the procedure . To avoid further complications, your doctor may temporarily stop you from using blood thinners (anticoagulants) before the procedure. In order to minimize potential dangers during cerebral angiography, your doctor may prescribe extra tests, such as blood tests. 

What Happens During Cerebral Angiography?

During a cerebral angiography, you must remove all jewelry and personal clothes and change into a hospital gown. The doctor may administer local anesthesia at the incision site and insert a catheter. Through the catheter, a contrast dye is injected into the carotid arteries. You may feel more heat while injecting the contrast dye. Throughout the procedures, a team of experts, including technologists and radiologists, work together to get x-ray images of the arteries in your brain. The treatment may take one to two hours to complete, and you will remain awake throughout the procedure.

What Happens After Cerebral Angiography?

Depending on the incision site, you may need to lie down on a bed for several hours following the surgery. Your doctor may advise placing ice or taking painkillers to reduce discomfort and swelling during that period. Your healthcare provider may also suggest the following:

  1. Diet: You can follow your regular diet after the procedure unless your doctor advises otherwise. You will be urged to drink plenty of liquids to flush the contrast dye from your body. ‌
  2. Activity: Usually, you can resume your regular activities within 8 to 12 hours. Your doctor may advise you to take a break from physically demanding activities .

When to Call your Doctor?

It’s common to experience minor bruising or light bleeding at the injection site. Nonetheless, keep an eye out for changes in temperature, discolored skin, discomfort, numbness, or loss of movement in the limbs close to the procedure site. Also, look for fever, redness, edema, bleeding, unusual discharge, speech or vision changes, dizziness, shortness of breath, muscle tremors, or chest pain. If you observe any of these signs, immediately contact your doctor.


What Dangers do Cerebral Aangiographies Pose?

During the catheter insertion, you may experience some discomfort or pain. Therefore, your healthcare provider administers anesthesia to reduce discomfort . Also, there’s a chance that the catheter may rip a plaque off, obstructing a brain blood vessel and resulting in a stroke. Before the treatment, your doctor discusses possible complications with you.


Cerebral angiography emits a small amount of radiation that may cause problems for pregnant women and their unborn children. For some, the contrast dye may cause allergic reactions. Apart from these, this procedure is harmless and effective in giving a clear picture of the anomalies in the brain. Discuss your allergies and health condition with your healthcare provider before proceeding. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should breastfeeding be avoided after cerebral angiography?

It is advised not to breastfeed your child for 24 hours after the procedure. You can pump the milk before the procedure and feed the child. 

Do all arterial blockages need cerebral angiography?

No. Cerebral angiography will only be performed if the healthcare provider finds it essential to devise a proper treatment plan.

Verified By Apollo Doctors
At Apollo, we believe that easily accessible, reliable health information can make managing health conditions an empowering experience. AskApollo Online Health Library team consists of medical experts who create curated peer-reviewed medical content that is regularly updated and is easy-to-understand.

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