Carotid angiography is a type of X-ray test used to view the carotid arteries. These are the large blood vessels that supply your brain with blood. 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.
Talk to your doctor about the risks and complications of angiography.
Tell your doctor about any allergies you may have, including any to contrast dye.
Be sure your doctor knows about all medicines you take. You may be told to stop taking some or all of them before the test. Tell your doctor about:
All prescription medications
Over-the-counter medicines that don't need a prescription
Any street drugs you may use
Herbs, vitamins, kelp, seaweed, cough syrups, and supplements
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, think you could be pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
Don’t eat or drink after midnight the night before the procedure. If your doctor says to take your normal medicines, swallow them with only small sips of water.
Arrange for an adult family member or friend to drive you home.
An IV (intravenous) line is started in your arm. You may also be given a medicine that helps you relax (sedative).
You’re given an injection to numb the site where the catheter will be inserted. This is usually the groin area.
A small puncture is made into the artery, and the catheter is inserted. Using X-rays, the catheter is then carefully guided through the 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 will need to lie still as X-rays are taken of the carotids. You may be asked to hold your breath during injections. When the procedure is complete, the catheter is removed.
You’ll be taken to a recovery area.
A 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.
Once you are home:
Don’t drive for 24 hours.
Avoid walking, bending, lifting, and taking stairs for 24 hours.
Avoid lifting anything over 5 pounds for 7 days.
Be sure to follow any other instructions from your doctor.
Call your doctor if you have any of the following:
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher lasting for 24 to 48 hours
Bleeding, swelling, or a lump at the insertion site
Sharp or increasing pain at the insertion site
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Leg pain, numbness, or a cold leg or foot
Severe headache, visual problems, or trouble speaking
Any other symptoms your provider instructed you to report based on your medical condition