Cere­bral Angiog­ra­phy (2002)

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What is cere­bral angiography?

Cere­bral angiog­ra­phy is a study of the blood cir­cu­la­tion of the brain. It is per­formed under local anaesthesia.

A catheter (small tube) is placed into the artery of the groin and advanced into the arter­ies of the neck. An injec­tion of con­trast mate­r­ial through this catheter ren­ders the study of the brain’s cir­cu­la­tion possible.

Who per­forms the test?

The test is per­formed by a radi­ol­o­gist, assisted by trained nurses and X-​ray technologists.

How long does it take?

The test itself can take any­where from 15 min­utes to 1.5 hours, depend­ing on how many arter­ies are being examined.

What are the risks of the procedure?

The risks of this exam are lim­ited and will be explained to you prior to sign­ing the con­sent. The pos­si­bil­ity of a per­ma­nent com­pli­ca­tion is less than 0.1%.

The evening before, or the morn­ing of the test, the radi­ol­o­gist will come to explain the pro­ce­dure, its indi­ca­tions and risks, so you can give an informed consent.

drink If the exam is done BEFORE 12 noon, fast­ing (do not eat or drink) after mid­night is required.
If it is done AFTER 12 noon, you may eat a light break­fast.
N.B. You may take some water if you need to take your medications.

BEFORE the test

  • Hos­pi­tal per­son­nel will shave either your right or left groin or pos­si­bly both, and will start an intra­venous in your arm to pro­vide fluids.
  • In the X-​ray room, you will be safely posi­tioned on a spe­cial table, and pre­pared for the exam­i­na­tion. You will be asked if you have any his­tory of asthma, hay fever or any other per­ti­nent allergies.
  • Your groin will be cleaned with an anti­sep­tic solu­tion. The area is then con­sid­ered ster­ile, so you will be asked to keep both arms by your side, for the rest of the exam. You will be cov­ered with ster­ile sheets from the upper chest to the feet. You should ask the nurse for assis­tance if you need to scratch your face or nose.

Dur­ing the procedure


  • The radi­ol­o­gist will freeze your skin to insert the catheter. You may feel a slight dis­com­fort as the freez­ing is done.
  • Dur­ing the exam, the table will be moved either up, down or from side to side, and the X-​ray machine may come very close to your face.
  • After each artery has been entered with the catheter, X-​rays are taken. Dur­ing this time you will be asked to hold your breath for approx­i­mately 10 sec­onds. It is of utmost impor­tance to fol­low these instruc­tions: by hold­ing your breath, the X-​rays, like a cam­era, will pro­duce very clear, pre­cise images, thereby allow­ing for a bet­ter study.
  • Dur­ing the injec­tion, you may expe­ri­ence a warm sen­sa­tion in the head and a pecu­liar taste in your mouth. You may also expe­ri­ence pres­sure behind the eye, or you may see flashes of light. These are all nor­mal sensations.

After the procedure

  • Once the test is com­pleted, the catheter is removed and pres­sure is applied at the punc­ture site for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • You are required to stay in bed for 12 hours
  • Keep your leg straight for 4 hours fol­low­ing the pro­ce­dure (with per­mis­sion to go to the bath­room after the first 4 hours).
  • You can eat and drink, as indicated.
  • Out patients will be released after 4 hours fol­low­ing the pro­ce­dure and are expected to fol­low the same instructions.
  • Remove the ban­dage cov­er­ing the punc­ture site 24 hours after the pro­ce­dure. You may have a bruise or small lump at the site, which usu­ally dis­ap­pears in a few days.
  • Avoid stren­u­ous exer­cise for the next 2 days. You may have a bath or a shower after the ban­dage has been removed. Your doc­tor will report the results of the pro­ce­dure to you, after con­sul­ta­tion with the radiologist.

Dis­charge instructions

If the punc­ture site should bleed, lie down and press firmly on the punc­ture site for 10 to 15 min­utes. If the bleed­ing does not stop, call 911.

If your leg becomes cold, dis­coloured (changes colour), or numb go to the near­est hos­pi­tal emer­gency department.

NB: If you are tak­ing a med­ica­tion called Glu­cophage (Met­formin) con­tact the radi­ol­ogy depart­ment as soon as pos­si­ble at (514) 3981910 and ask to speak to a nurse from 7h3017h00, Mon­day to Friday.

Out­pa­tient Check-​In

Neu­ro­ra­di­ol­ogy Depart­ment
Mon­treal Neu­ro­log­i­cal Hos­pi­tal
3801 Uni­ver­sity (cor­ner of Pine Avenue)
5th floor, Mon­treal (Que­bec), H3A 2B4
Tel.: (514) 3981910

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Infor­ma­tion about InfoNEURO
Neuro-​Patient Resource Cen­tre
Mon­treal Neu­ro­log­i­cal Hosp­tial Room 354
Tel: (514) 3985358
E-​mail: infoneuro@​muhc.​mcgill.​ca
Web site: http://​infoneuro​.mcgill​.ca/

This infor­ma­tion is for edu­ca­tional pur­poses only, and is not intended to replace the advice of a pro­fes­sional health­care prac­ti­tioner, or to sub­sti­tute for med­ical care.

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Made by Neuro-​Patient Resource Cen­tre.
Neu­ro­ra­di­ol­ogy Depart­ment.
Mon­treal Neu­ro­log­i­cal Hos­pi­tal.
Feb­ru­ary 2002.

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