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Carotid angiography is a type of x-ray test used to view the carotid arteries (large blood vessels that supply your brain with blood). The information provided by this test helps your doctor make decisions about treatment. 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 all medications you take and any allergies you may have.
Don’t eat or drink after midnight the night before the procedure. If your doctor says to take your normal medications, swallow them with only small sips of water.
Arrange for an adult family member or friend to drive you home.
You’re given an IV (intravenous) line in your arm. You may also be given a sedative to help you relax.
You’re given an injection to numb the site where the catheter is inserted. This is usually the groin area.
A small puncture is made so the catheter can be inserted. Using x-rays, the catheter is then carefully guided into an 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 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 doctor or 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:
Bleeding, swelling, or notice a lump at the insertion site
Sharp or increasing pain at the insertion site
You become lightheaded or dizzy
Leg pain, numbness, or a cold leg or foot
Severe headache, visual problems, or trouble speaking