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Prior to the Procedure

  • Talk to your doctor about any medications/vitamins/herbs/inhalers you are taking or use as you may need to stop certain ones before the test.
  • Tell your physician about any food/medication allergies, especially if you are allergic to strawberries, shellfish (crab or shrimp) or iodine.
  • Discuss any possible bleeding or clotting disorders, liver or kidney disease or a thyroid conditions.
  • Do not drink anything for 12 hours prior to your test.
  • Talk to your doctor about taking any required medications (diabetes or blood pressure meds).
  • Please tell your doctor if you are pregnant, nursing or are trying to become pregnant.
  • You will have blood samples taken in case you need a blood transfusion.

On the Day of the Test

  • If your doctor approves of you taking required meds, do so prior to arrival with a very small sip of water.
  • The doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

After Your Test

  • Your leg where the incision was made will remain raised for at least six hours to prevent bleeding. In some cases, a special closure may be used to close the site, which can shorten the stay.
  • If you feel any discomfort, request an ice pack to be applied to the puncture site.
  • You will remain at the angiography suite while your leg is elevated and afterwards to ensure that you do not have any bleeding at the puncture site and that you do not have an allergic reaction to the contract agent.
  • Your physician may talk to you before you leave to give you an initial report, but some results may require additional study, and you will learn more at a follow-up appointment.
  • Talk to your doctor about when you can resume taking any medications.
  • You will have to have a driver to take you home as you cannot drive after the test.

Recovery: what to expect in the next few weeks

  • Resume a normal diet and drink eight to 10 glasses of water (not juice or soft drinks) during the next 24 hours. This will help clear the dye from your system.
  • Do not drink any alcoholic beverages during this time.
  • Rest for the first day and slowly resume activities over the next three days, including no exercise or lifting of objects weighing more than 10 pounds.
  • Do not drive until the day after the test.
  • Talk with your doctor before you start any exercise or strenuous activities.
  • You will have bruising at the puncture site. If you notice any bleeding, lie flat and apply pressure to the site for 15 minutes. Remain flat for the next hour. If the bleeding continues for more than 15 minutes, have someone drive you to the closest emergency department.
  • If you notice a sudden increase in swelling at the puncture site, this could indicate active bleeding in the artery. This is an emergency, and 911 should be called immediately.
  • Call the doctor who performed the test if any of following occur: numbness or tingling in the arm or leg,

Diagnostic Cerebral Angiography Q&A

What does the procedure involve?

Medications are given through an IV to calm the patient. Throughout the procedure, the patient’s heart and oxygen levels are monitored. The groin area is prepared and the surgeon numbs the region with a local anesthetic. A tiny sheath is inserted into the femoral artery where a catheter is threaded up to the brain. While there may be an initial sensation when the catheter is first inserted, the patient will not feel it as it moves through the body.

After the catheter reaches the brain, a contrast agent is injected through the IV which illuminates the vessels. Patients may experience some flushing and headache or have a salty taste in the mouth. Medication can be given to control any nausea. Images will be taken so that the surgeon can make a definitive diagnosis.

How long is the test?

About one hour.

How long will I remain at the hospital?

You will have to elevate your leg for about six hours. Additionally, you will be monitored to ensure that there is no bleeding at the puncture site or any reactions to the contrast dye.

What is the recovery time?

You will feel better within a day, but should refrain from lifting or exercise for at least three days. Do not perform any strenuous exercise until your doctor says it is OK.

What are the potential complications from the test?

The most common, but rare risk is reaction to the contrast dye. Other extremely rare complications include vessel wall rupture from the induction of the catheter, stroke, bleeding at the aneurysm site, seizure, other internal bleeding, irregular heartbeat, kidney impairment from reaction to the dye and infection.