Carotid angiography is a type of X-ray test used to view the carotid arteries or the large blood vessels that supply your brain with blood. The information provided by this test provides your doctor with necessary information about blood flow and can be used the help determine if treatment is necessary.
During the test, a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is passed into an artery leading to the carotids. Contrast fluid is then injected through the catheter. The fluid makes it easier to see the carotids on the X-rays.
Before Your Angiography
- Tell your doctor about all medications you take and any allergies you may have.
- Don’t eat or drink after midnight the night before the procedure. If your doctor says to take your normal medications, swallow them with only small sips of water.
- Arrange for an adult family member or friend to drive you home.
During Your Angiography
- You’ll be given an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. You may also be given a sedative to help you relax.
- You’ll be given an injection to numb the site where the catheter is inserted. This is usually the groin area.
- A small puncture is made so the catheter can be inserted. Using X-rays, the catheter is then carefully guided into an artery.
- Contrast fluid is injected through the catheter into the artery. You may feel warmth or pressure in your legs, back, neck or head. You may be asked to hold your breath during injections.
- Next, X-rays are taken of the carotids. When the procedure is complete, the catheter is removed.
After Your Angiography
You’ll be taken to a recovery area at Gwinnett Medical Center’s Strickland Heart Center. A physician or nurse will apply pressure to the insertion site for about 10 minutes. You’ll then need to lie flat for a few hours. Your doctor will discuss the results with you soon after the procedure.
Back at Home Once you are home:
- Don’t drive for 24 hours.
- Avoid walking, bending, lifting and taking stairs for 24 hours.
- Avoid lifting anything over five pounds for seven days.
- Be sure to follow any other instructions from your doctor.
When to Call Your Doctor Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Bleeding, swelling or notice a lump at the insertion site
- Sharp or increasing pain at the insertion site
- You become lightheaded or dizzy
- Leg pain, numbness, or a cold leg or foot
- Severe headache, visual problems or trouble speaking