Carotid angiograms help physicians identify narrowing in the carotid arteries that feed the brain.
A carotid angiogram refers to the imaging results that are produced during a carotid angiography—a “gold standard” procedure that examines the carotid arteries which run through the neck and deliver oxygen-rich blood to the brain.
Tampa General Hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute excels in carotid angiographies and facilitates breakthroughs in vascular care thanks in part to our collaboration with the University of South Florida. Led by nationally recognized, board-certified vascular specialists and surgeons, our institute achieves world-class outcomes for our patients and features an ultrasound vascular laboratory that’s accredited in five specialty testing areas by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC).
A carotid angiography is often used as a diagnostic tool to view the large arteries in the neck that feed into the brain. This allows physicians to identify abnormalities such as arterial narrowing and atherosclerosis, and to assess a patient’s risk for potentially life-threatening cardiovascular issues such as stroke. In some cases, carotid angiography is used to facilitate carotid stenting, a minimally invasive procedure to correct dangerous narrowing in the carotid artery.
Here’s a brief overview of the carotid angiography procedure:
- A flexible, thin tube called a catheter is inserted into the femoral artery located around the groin. To reduce any discomfort, a local anesthetic is applied at the insertion site. (The groin may seem far away from the neck, but this approach is the best way to reach the carotid arteries.)
- A contrast dye is injected into the catheter to outline and illuminate the carotid arteries on an X-ray.
- A special X-ray camera takes pictures of the carotid arteries, producing detailed carotid angiograms for examination.
What to Expect
The patient is awake during the carotid angiography, although a numbing agent, sometimes along with a sedative, is provided to the patient to reduce possible discomfort. The carotid angiogram itself takes about one hour to complete and several hours of bed rest are recommended following the procedure. An overnight hospital stay may be advisable for some patients.
General anesthesia is not necessary for a carotid angiogram. But, as is the case with any other medical procedure, a carotid angiography comes with possible complications. These include:
- An infection around the catheter insertion site
- Blood clotting around the catheter insertion site
- An allergic reaction to the contrast dye
- An injury to the groin artery where the catheter is placed
- An allergic reaction to the local anesthetic
Carotid angiograms are important tools for vascular specialists and are widely recognized as the “gold standard” in carotid and cerebral vessel imaging.