What are the risks of a brain angiogram?

February 16, 2010

A brain angiogram or cerebral angiogram is also referred to as an arteriogram. This is a diagnostic technique through which images of blood vessels in the region of the brain or head are obtained. This procedure helps in the diagnosis of conditions such as blood clots, cerebral aneurysm and fatty plaque which raises the risk of stroke in an individual. Other vascular malformations may also be detected through a brain angiogram.

This procedure involves injecting a special dye into the arteries of the brain or head. A thin tube known as a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel. This tube travels all the way up to the brain or head and when it is placed in the correct position, the dye is injected. Usually the blood vessel through which the tube is inserted is in the thigh area. Once the dye is injected, the brain angiogram is able to generate pictures of the blood vessels.

The chances of any complications arising from an angiogram are very low. In rare cases, problems may occur. These problems may occur within a couple of hours after the procedure. If a problem arises during the procedure, the test may not be continued. Some individuals may develop an allergic reaction to the dye. Itching, rash, breathing difficulties or shock may occur. It is important to inform the doctor beforehand about any allergies. There is also a slight chance that the catheter may cause damage to a blood vessel. It is also possible that the catheter may dislodge a portion of clotted blood or fat from the walls of the blood vessel. This can result in blockage of the flow of blood to the brain, leg, arm or bowel. Another risk is that of bleeding from the area of incision. Blood clotting may also occur at the site, thereby causing obstruction of blood flow to the arm or leg. The iodine dye that is injected may result in loss of water or kidney damage. This is a risk faced by individuals with kidney problems, diabetes or those who are dehydrated. However, special precautions are taken during the procedure in case of such individuals. There is also a slight possibility of damage occurring in the cells or tissues that are exposed to the radiation, even though the level of radiation is very low during the test. The individual may discuss beforehand with the doctor any concerns or worries about the procedure and the risks associated with it.

Submitted by M T on February 16, 2010 at 03:11

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