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Angiogram of the Head and Neck

Risks

The chance of any major problem from an angiogram is very small, but some problems can occur. In most cases, the problems occur within 2 hours after the test when you are in the recovery room. If the problem occurs during the angiogram, the test may not be completed. You may need urgent treatment that could include surgery.

  • There is a chance for an allergic reaction to the iodine dye. The reaction can be mild (itching, rash) or severe (trouble breathing or sudden shock). Most reactions can be treated with medicines. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have hay fever, asthma, or iodine allergy or food allergies.
  • There is a small chance that the catheter may damage a blood vessel or dislodge a piece of clotted blood or fat from the vessel wall. The clot or fat can block blood flow to the brain, arm, leg, or intestine (bowel).
  • Bleeding from the needle site may occur. Also, a blood clot can form where the catheter was inserted. This may cause some blockage of the blood flow in the arm or leg.
  • The iodine dye used for the test can cause water loss or direct damage to the kidneys. This is a special concern for people who have kidney problems, diabetes, or who are dehydrated. Special measures are used during the test to prevent problems for people who need an angiogram and have these conditions.
  • There is always a small chance of damage to cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation, even the low level used for this test.

Results

Angiogram of the head and neck is an X-ray test that uses a special dye and camera (fluoroscopy) to take pictures of the blood flow in the blood vessels of the head and neck. Your doctor may tell you some results right after the test. Full results are usually ready the same day.

Angiogram of the head and neck

Normal:

The blood vessels are normal in size, shape, location, and number.

The dye flows evenly through the blood vessels.

No narrowing, blockage, bulging, or other problem of the blood vessels is seen.

Abnormal:

A narrow spot in an artery may mean that a fat deposit, calcium deposit, or clot is reducing blood flow through the blood vessel.

Blood vessels that are not in their normal position may mean that a tumor or other growth is pushing against them.

A bulge in a blood vessel may point to a weakness in the blood vessel wall (aneurysm).

An abnormal pattern of blood vessels may mean that a tumor is present.

Dye that leaks out of a blood vessel may mean that there is a hole in the blood vessel.

There is abnormal branching of blood vessels present since birth (congenital).

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 27, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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