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Angiogram of the Head and Neck

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Being pregnant. An angiogram is not usually done during pregnancy because the radiation could damage the developing baby (fetus).
  • Blockage or curving of the blood vessels caused by atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, or aging. This may make it hard to guide the catheter through the blood vessels or hard to inject the dye.
  • Not being able to lie still during the test.

What To Think About

  • A magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) or computed tomography angiogram (CTA) may be an option instead of an angiogram. Each of these tests is less invasive than a standard angiogram. Some MRA tests and all CTA tests require an injection of dye. A CTA also involves radiation exposure. Some surgeons may want results from a standard angiogram before doing surgery to repair a damaged or abnormal blood vessel.
  • For people with kidney problems, diabetes, or dehydration, steps are taken to prevent kidney damage. Less dye may be used or more fluids may be given before, during, and after the test. If you have a history of kidney problems, other blood tests (creatinine, blood urea nitrogen) may be done before an angiogram to make sure that your kidneys are working well.
  • In rare cases, surgery may be needed to repair a hole in the blood vessel where the catheter was placed. There is also a substance that can be used to help plug the hole in the vessel and stop the bleeding. The substance used to plug the hole in the vessel is normally absorbed by the body over several months.
  • Other angiogram tests can be done, including:
    • A four-vessel study. The catheter is placed in each of the four arteries carrying blood to the head and neck (two carotid arteries and two vertebral arteries).
    • An arch study. The catheter is pulled back from the head and neck area until the tip is at the large artery (aorta) where it leaves the heart. This study lets your doctor check the arteries where they branch off the aorta.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
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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