Conditions, Preparation, Procedure & Risks Involved With a Cerebral Angiogram

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What is Cerebral Angiogram?

A cerebral angiogram is a test that is administered by a physician to diagnose problems with blood vessels in the head and neck. It is a medical imaging technique that produces images of the arteries and shows the flow of blood in these arteries. The results of a cerebral angiogram can help in the detection of the following brain related conditions.

Cerebral Aneurysm

A cerebral aneurysm can be caused due to high blood pressure, trauma to the head, or due to fatty deposits building up in the arteries. It can cause the blood vessel in the brain to dilate, bulge, or balloon out. Cigarette smoking is another reason that has been known to contribute to this condition.


An embolism is basically a blood clot that was formed somewhere in the body and has been transported by the blood to another part of the body. An embolism can cause a block in the arteries of the brain, resulting in a lack of oxygen supply to the brain. This can also lead to a stroke.

Cerebral Arteriosclerosis

The hardening and thinning down of the arteries results in this condition. It certainly increases the risk of stroke. A cerebral angiogram can also help identify malformed blood vessels as well as issues associated with it.


There is some amount of preparation that is needed before the cerebral angiogram procedure, and this may vary depending on the existing medical condition of the patient.

Typically, preparation for the test involves:

  • Not eating for at least 6 to 12 hours prior to the test.
  • Drinking at least 10 glasses of water, 24 hours prior to the test.
  • Changes to the dosage and timing of existing medication.
  • Certain blood tests to assess the Blood Urea Nitrogen and Creatin.

It is important to inform the physician about the following prior to the test:

  • Existing medication.
  • Pregnancy, trying to become pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Liver or kidney diseases.
  • Thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
  • Allergic reactions to Iodine.
  • Allergic reactions to certain shellfish like crabs and shrimp and strawberries.


The actual cerebral angiogram procedure involves insertion of a thin tube, also known as a catheter, into an artery through a needle. The location of injection will be shaved and cleaned and the injection could be either at the groin, the neck, or the arm. A local anesthesia is administered at the location of the injection for adults, and general anesthesia may be recommended for children. Once the catheter has reached its target, a dye, also called as a contrast dye, is injected. This dye is visible to the physician on the angiogram instrument helping them to identify problems with the arteries.

Risks Involved

There can be rare instances of allergic reaction to the dye being administered. The patient must immediately inform the doctor if they feel uncomfortable during the test. The cerebral angiogram procedure clearly provides the physician with visual details on blockages in the artery. Depending on the nature of the blockage, the patient may be asked to undergo a cerebral angioplasty. A cerebral angioplasty helps to open up a blocked artery and can result in improved blood flow.