Cerebral Angiogram Fact Sheet

What is a Cerebral Angiogram?

A cerebral angiogram (also known as a carotid angiogram) is an examination of the blood vessels in your neck and brain using x-rays and contrast (x-ray dye).

A specialist known as an Interventional Radiologist performs these procedures.

The contrast is injected through a thin plastic tube called a catheter, which is passed through a sheath inserted into the femoral artery.

x-ray of cerebral angiogram

Download PDF

Why do I need this procedure?

Your Doctor has asked for this cerebral angiogram procedure to be performed because you may have experienced some or all of the following symptoms;

  • Ongoing headaches,
  • Visual disturbances, slurred speech, memory loss.
  • Dizziness or fainting not related to your heart.
  • A family history of aneurysms or vascular abnormalities.

What should I expect?

  • The procedure can take up to 60mins.
  • The contrast can cause a warm flushing or burning sensation or metallic taste in your mouth.  It only last for a few seconds and stops once the contrast has stopped being injected.  Please ring MIVIR if you have a known allergy to Iodine or contrast.
  • You may be required to take some time off work – please let the nurses know so they can organise a medical certificate for you.  An attendance certificate can be provided for your carer on the day of the procedure.
  • Please make sure you have someone to pick you up after your procedure.  You procedure will be cancelled if you don’t have an escort.  Please contact MIVIR as soon as possible if this cannot be arranged.

On the day of your Procedure

You will need to present to the Day Procedure Unit on the day of your procedure – your admission time will be sent to you with your appointment time.  This will allow the nurses time to complete your admission paperwork and any other tests that may be required such as blood tests or pre-medication.

You will be required to fast for 4 hours before you procedure – this means no food or fluids.  You may take any regular medication with a small sip of water.  Please continue to take your blood pressure medication.  Please bring a list of your medications with you.

Please contact MIVIR if you are taking medication for the following;

  • Diabetes,
  • Stroke,
  • Heart Conditions such as a Heart Attack or Atrial Fibrillation.
Pre Procedure

Pre Procedure

You will be required to change into a hospital gown and remove all clothing including your underwear.  A cannula will be inserted into one of the veins in your arm or hand so medication can be given before, during or after your procedure.  You may need to have some hair removed from your groin crease.



You will be taken into the Angiography Suite and positioned on the table.  Your head will be placed into a head holder to help minimise movement during the procedure.  Your face will not be covered.  Monitoring equipment will be attached so the nurses can monitor your blood pressure and heart rate throughout the procedure.  The scrub nurse will clean the top of your leg with a cold antiseptic solution and then cover you with a sterile drape. Local anaesthetic will be injected into the skin, which will sting for 15-20 seconds.  You should only feel pushing and pressure after this.

Post Procedure

Post Procedure

At the end of the procedure the sheath will be removed and firm pressure will be applied to the puncture site for at least 10 minutes.  You will be required to lie flat for a minimum of 2 hours after the sheath is removed.  During your time in the recovery room the nurses will monitor your blood pressure and heart rate and regularly check the puncture site for any signs of bleeding.  You will be given something to eat and drink as soon as you are able to sit up.  Your cannula will be removed just before you leave the hospital.  If you are staying overnight in the hospital, you will be taken to the ward after a short period in recovery.



If you are being discharged home, your recovery period is approximately 4 hours.  You must have someone to collect you and stay with you overnight.  You will be given a letter from the nurses with some discharge instructions and any other relevant information related to your procedure.  You may be required make a follow-up appointment with Dr Vrazas.  This can be made at your convenience by phoning MIVIR on 9411 7165.

At Home

At Home

We recommend the following;

  • Rest quietly for the next 24-48 hours.
  • No strenuous activity for the next 24-48 hours.
  • Avoid activities where repetitive bending is required.
  • You may remove the dressing the following day – you can leave it uncovered.
  • Avoid swimming, spa’s and baths for 7 days.
  • If you notice any swelling, bruising or pain at the injection site that continues to increase, call an ambulance or present to your nearest Emergency Department.
  • If you experience any weakness/numbness in the face, arms of legs call 000 immediately.

Useful Links

Cerebral Angiography – Radiology Info

Cerebral Arteriogram – Johns Hopkins Medicine

Author: Dr John Vrazas