Healthcare providers use carotid angiography to find blockages in, or narrowing of, the carotid arteries that move blood from your heart to your head and brain. These large arteries are on either side of your neck. Providers inject contrast dye through a catheter to make arteries visible and take images to see any obstructions.
Carotid angiography, or angiogram, is a test to help diagnose carotid artery disease. Providers do this test to see how blood moves through the large arteries in your neck. Carotid angiography uses X-rays to take images and a special dye to make your arteries visible.
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The carotid arteries are two large blood vessels on either side of your neck. These arteries move blood from your heart to your brain and head. In carotid artery disease, these arteries become narrowed or blocked due to atherosclerosis.
Your healthcare provider may recommend carotid angiography when they suspect you have carotid artery disease. You may also have this test if you’ve had a mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack) or stroke.
If you have carotid artery disease symptoms, healthcare providers may recommend a non-invasive test called a carotid ultrasound. If carotid ultrasound images aren’t clear or your provider wants to see more detail, they may recommend carotid angiography.
A provider specializing in image-guided procedures (interventional radiologist) performs carotid angiography.
To perform carotid angiography, your provider:
Before carotid angiography:
You'll change into a hospital gown for the procedure. If you wear glasses or hearing aids, ask your healthcare provider if you can wear them during the test. Don’t wear contact lenses during the procedure.
Carotid angiography takes 60 to 90 minutes. Your provider will:
Typically, carotid angiography isn't painful. Some people feel a flush of heat when providers inject the contrast dye. This feeling may last for just a few seconds. Tell your healthcare provider if you have:
When the test ends, your provider will:
You should drink fluids to help you flush the contrast dye from your body, and you may need to urinate more often. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about getting up and moving around.
Carotid angiography shows any blockages or narrowing of your carotid arteries. An obstruction in your carotid artery can increase your risk of stroke. Healthcare providers use the results of carotid angiography to determine this risk and decide if you need treatments.
A radiologist, an expert specializing in interpreting images, examines the images taken during the procedure. The radiologist sends a report to your provider. Your provider contacts you to discuss the results and next steps.
Call your healthcare provider if you experience any signs of allergic reaction or don’t feel well.
If your carotid arteries are narrow or blocked, healthcare providers may treat you with:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Healthcare providers use carotid angiography, or angiogram, to look for blockages and narrowing in your carotid arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to your brain. If your carotid arteries are narrow or blocked, you may be at higher risk for stroke.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/02/2022.
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