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What is cerebral angiography?

Cerebral Angiography

Cerebral angiography is a procedure that makes a detailed picture (angiogram) of the blood vessels in the brain. Doctors use cerebral angiography to study blood vessels in your brain that are obstructed, blocked, narrowed, enlarged or malformed, and diagnose the underlying cause.

Cerebral angiography is only one method used to diagnose a variety of cerebrovascular diseases, disorders and conditions. Discuss all the testing options with your doctor to understand which options are right for you.  

Types of cerebral angiography

The types of cerebral angiography procedures include:

  • Cerebral angiography is an angiographic procedure that involves inserting a catheter into a blood vessel in the groin or arm. The catheter wire is then fed, or guided to the area in the brain to be examined. X-rays are used to produce the angiogram, or picture of the vessel.  Contrast or dye is injected into the catheter to produce images of the blood vessels in your brain.
  • Noninvasive cerebral angiography uses computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to produce the angiogram. MRI of blood vessels is also called magnetic resonance angiography, or MRA. CT involves X-rays but MRA does not.

A cerebral angiogram, and in some cases, noninvasive cerebral angiography, use a contrast agent. This is sometimes called a dye. The dye is given intravenously (through an IV). The contrast agent improves the quality of the images.

Medical Reviewers: Daphne E. Hemmings, MD, MPH Last Review Date: Jul 11, 2013

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Medical References

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Angiography or Angiogram. Society of Interventional Radiology. http://www.sirweb.org/patients/angiography/. Accessed April 23, 2013.
Angiography Test. Cleveland Clinic. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/Angiography/hic_Angiography_Test.aspx. Accessed April 23, 2013.
Catheter Angiography. American College of Radiology. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=angiocath. Accessed April 23, 2013.
Cerebral Angiography. American College of Radiology. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=angiocerebral. Accessed April 23, 2013.
Evaluating postoperative fever: A focused approach. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. http://ccjm.org/content/73/Suppl_1/S62.full.pdf. Accessed April 23, 2013.
MR Angiography (MRA). American College of Radiology. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=angiomr. Accessed April 23, 2013.

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