A clear picture of the blood vessels by an x-ray is known as an angiogram. The carotid artery is a large artery comprising the arteries of the head and neck which supply the brain with oxygen rich blood. The main function of the carotid artery is to supply blood to the head from the heart via the neck. Carotid angiogram is the study of carotid arteries to determine the possibility of any blockage, extent of blockage, narrow arteries or build up of plaque. Carotid angiogram is also undertaken to assess the pattern of blood flow to a tumor, or to detect abnormalities in the blood vessel. Common symptoms that may require carotid angiography are: stroke, palpitation, blurred or double vision, memory loss, speech impairment, severe headaches, weakness, numbness, loss of balance and sudden dizziness. Carotid angiogram helps your healthcare provider take appropriate decisions regarding the future course of treatment.
Carotid angiogram is a 45 minute x-ray test that employs the use of special dye and camera. The angiogram procedure involves the insertion of a thin flexible tube or catheter in the groin or above the elbow. The catheter is then guided to the head and neck region. A special dye is then injected into the vessel to make the pictures more clear. The angiogram data or pictures can be recorded as x-ray films or as digital pictures on a computer. The patient is observed for a short time span before being given the permission to leave the medical center. The angiogram of the carotid artery helps evaluate conditions such as bulge in blood vessel, blockage of blood vessel or abnormal pattern of blood vessels. Blockage of blood vessels is a serious condition given that blood flow may slow down or stop. Apart from carotid angiogram, a Magnetic Resonance Angiogram (MRA) and Computed Tomography Angiogram are also other options to help study the arteries of the head and neck.
Certain medical conditions need to be discussed with your doctor before taking this test. Such conditions include pregnancy, breast feeding, allergy to medicines, allergy to iodine dyes, intake of medicines, history of diabetes or kidney problems. A breast feeding mother will have to wait for 1-2 days before breast feeding the child as the iodine dye needs to be flushed out from the body. The dye usually passes out of the system within a span of 24 hours. Patients with history of kidney problems may not be advised a carotid angiogram. The dye used may cause damage among people already having kidney problems.