CT Angiogram Brain
CT angiogram of the brain is performed to visualize the arteries and veins of your brain. This test implies using intravenous contrast dye injection and a CT scan to create images of blood vessels and blood flow in the brain. Contrast is a special dye that is used to enhance image quality. With the help of this test, a doctor can visualize the diseases/conditions affecting the blood vessels of the brain.
Why and when do you need this test?
Your doctor may advise this test if you have signs and symptoms of a blood vessel disease of the brain. This test can identify the blockages or other abnormalities (narrowing, dilatation) of the blood vessels supplying brain tissue causing your symptoms.
This test may be performed for the following reasons;
- Stroke (disruption of blood supply to the brain tissue)
- Severe headaches
- Problems with the memory
- Problems with the consciousness
- Vision problems (decreased vision, blurring, or double vision)
- Weakness or numbness
- Inability to maintain balance
- Loss of coordination
Do you need to prepare for the test?
- You will receive clear instructions regarding eating and drinking before the test.
- Due to the use of contrast, you will be requested to stop eating 3-4 hours before the test.
- You will be encouraged to drink clear fluids and take regular medications normally unless your doctor advises otherwise.
- You should not be wearing any metallic objects like jewelry, watches, or metal clips as they can interfere with the radiation and may affect the image.
- Wear an article of easy clothing, or you will be given a hospital gown to be changed into.
- The use of X-rays in the CT scan is dangerous for the developing baby, so inform the doctor if you are pregnant.
- The contrast used for the procedure may have iodine and can cause some allergic reactions or endanger a diseased kidney. Inform your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to iodine, are diabetic, or have kidney disease.
What can you expect?
- The nurse will prick a vein in your hand or arm to establish a cannula to inject the contrast material.
- You would be requested to lie on the table and avoid movements to prevent the images from getting blurry.
- The table will slide into the CT scan machine that looks like a large donut with a tunnel.
- The test will last for about 15-20 minutes.
- You may feel a warm flush in your body and a metallic taste in the mouth during the contrast injection, but it will go away soon.
- You may resume your daily activities after the test
- You will be advised to drink plenty of water to flush the contrast out of your body.
Are there any risks to this test?
Although the radiations used in the test are quite low doses, they can still harm a fetus, so it is advisable to avoid this test while pregnant.
The contrast material used can pose a threat to already diseased kidneys. So in cases of a kidney disease patient, you must inform your doctor.
There is a slight chance of allergic reaction to the contrast material, but it can be controlled through medicines. Inform your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to iodine before.
If you are a diabetic patient and take metformin, inform your doctor, as it may interact with the contrast agent resulting in unwanted and harmful reactions.
What do the test results mean?
A radiologist will send a signed report to your doctor, who will be able to describe your test results. The abnormal results may or may not include the following;
- Atherosclerotic plaques in the blood vessels
- Blood clots in the vessel
- Vessel aneurysm (dilatation)
- Stenosis of a vessel (narrowing),
- Inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis)
- A tear in the vessel wall (dissection),
- Structural malformations,
- Presence of emboli,
- Brain tumors
Other related tests may include:
- MR angiography of the brain
- MRI Brain (magnetic resonance imaging)
- CT scan Brain
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