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Cerebral angiogram

What is a cerebral angiogram?

cerebralA diagnostic cerebral angiogram is a minimally invasive procedure that is safe and effective and can be performed as a day procedure.

A cerebral angiogram is where contrast (dye) is injected into the blood vessels (arteries and veins) of the brain so that X-ray images can be obtained. The contrast outlines the blood vessels and diagnostic information can be obtained by studying these images.

Reasons why you may require a cerebral angiogram

  • to look for possible abnormalities in the blood vessels
    • cerebral aneurysms
    • vascular malformations
  • to look for causes of some symptoms
  • as part of the treatment for some conditions
    • coiling of a cerebral aneurysm
    • blocking blood supply to a tumour or vascular malformation prior to surgery
  • to find the cause of cerebral bleeding
  • to check to see if treatment for some conditions has been successful.

What you may need to tell your doctor or nursing staff looking after you:

  • if you have had a previous reaction to contrast
  • if you have kidney disease
  • if you are pregnant
  • if you have blood clotting problems
  • if you are taking blood thinning medication (Warfarin, aspirin, anti-inflammatory).

How is it performed?

The cerebral angiogram is performed in the Mater Private Hospital Brisbane CardioVascular Unit. You will be required to fast prior to the procedure. An area in your groin is numbed with local anaesthetic. When numb, a needle is placed in the femoral artery. A thin plastic tube or catheter is inserted via the aorta into the arteries to the brain. Contrast is injected while X-rays are taken. This contrast may cause some side effects such as warmth, dizziness, pain or transient changes in vision. All of these symptoms usually pass very quickly and you will be monitored closely throughout the procedure.

Multiple images of the vessels are required so there will be multiple injections of contrast in differing positions of both the catheter and the X-ray machine. It is important to stay very still whilst the images are being taken. Your head may be immobilized.

At the end of the procedure the nursing staff will remove the tube in your groin and apply pressure to the groin area for approximately 10 minutes to prevent bleeding from the puncture site. After the risk of bleeding has passed and a seal has formed at the insertion site a small transparent dressing is applied. You will remain in the CardioVascular Unit for approximately 3 hours after the removal of the sheath before being allowed to return home. You will need to rest in bed for 2–3 hours to reduce the likelihood of bleeding.

What are the risks?

The chance of any complication is very small.

Risks include:

  • bruising
  • internal bleeding
  • haematoma or damage to the artery at insertion site
  • allergic reaction to the contrast may cause a rash, swelling, difficulty breathing or heart problems
  • very small risk of stroke.

You will be required to sign a consent form to say that the procedure has been explained to you fully, including risks and benefits. If you need any clarification please ask your doctor for more information before you sign.

Location and contact details

Mater Private CardioVascular Unit

Mater Private Hospital Brisbane
Level 6, 301 Vulture Street, South Brisbane,
Queensland 4101

Telephone: 07 3163 6700
Bookings: 07 3163 1146 or 07 3163 1147
Facsimilie: 07 3163 6720


© 2010 Mater Misericordiae Ltd. ACN 096 708 922.

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-450005
Last modified 09/8/2017.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 19/1/2014
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