Carotid Angiography

Carotid Angiography

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Carotid Angiography

Carotid angiography is a type of X-ray test used to view the carotid arteries (large blood vessels that supply your brain with blood). The information provided by this test helps your doctor make decisions about treatment. During the test, a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is passed into an artery leading to the carotids. Contrast fluid is then injected through the catheter. The fluid makes it easier to see the carotids on the X-rays.


Talk to your doctor about the risks and complications of angiography.

Person lying on table under x-ray machine. Healthcare provider standing next to table is wearing surgical gown, hat, mask, and gloves. Health care provider is looking at monitor.

Before the Procedure

  • Tell your doctor about all medications you take and any allergies you may have.

  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, if you think you might be pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding. 

  • Don’t eat or drink after midnight the night before the procedure. If your doctor says to take your normal medications, swallow them with only small sips of water.

  • Arrange for an adult family member or friend to drive you home.

During the Procedure

  • You’re given an IV (intravenous) line in your arm. You may also be given a sedative to help you relax.

  • You’re given an injection to numb the site where the catheter is inserted. This is usually the groin area.

  • A small puncture is made so the catheter can be inserted. Using X-rays, the catheter is then carefully guided into an artery.

  • Contrast fluid is injected through the catheter into the artery. You may feel warmth or pressure in your legs, back, neck, or head. You will need to lie still as X-rays are taken of the carotids. You may be asked to hold your breath during injections. When the procedure is complete, the catheter is removed.

After the Procedure

You’ll be taken to a recovery area. A doctor or nurse will apply pressure to the insertion site for about 10 minutes. You’ll then need to lie flat for a few hours. Your doctor will discuss the results with you soon after the procedure.

Back at Home

Once you are home:

  • Don’t drive for 24 hours.

  • Avoid walking, bending, lifting, and taking stairs for 24 hours.

  • Avoid lifting anything over 5 pounds for 7 days.

Be sure to follow any other instructions from your doctor.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Bleeding, swelling, or notice a lump at the insertion site

  • Sharp or increasing pain at the insertion site

  • You become lightheaded or dizzy

  • Leg pain, numbness, or a cold leg or foot

  • Severe headache, visual problems, or trouble speaking