A carotid angiogram is a test to look at the large blood vessels in your neck that carry blood to your brain. These are called carotid arteries. The doctor puts a thin, flexible tube (catheter) into a blood vessel in your groin. Or the doctor may put the catheter in a blood vessel in your arm or shoulder. You may have this test to see if a carotid artery is blocked.
During the procedure, the doctor moves the catheter through the blood vessel into your neck. Then he or she injects a dye into the catheter. The dye flows into the blood vessel. A picture of your carotid artery shows up on a video screen. The doctor can look at the screen to see any blockage or narrowing of the artery.
If your carotid artery is blocked, the doctor may do an angioplasty. The doctor uses a catheter with a tiny balloon at the tip. He or she puts it into the blocked area and inflates it. The balloon presses the fatty buildup (plaque) against the walls of the artery. This makes more room for blood to flow. In most cases, the doctor then puts a stent in the artery. A stent is a small, expandable tube that presses against the walls of the artery. The stent is left in the artery. It keeps it open and helps blood flow. The stent also may keep small pieces of plaque from breaking off and causing a stroke.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.
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Current as of: March 20, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Howard B. Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology
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