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An abnormal widening or ballooning of a section of a blood vessel caused by a weakness in the wall. Find out more about aneuryms at NHS Choices.

contrast medium

Substance used during certain radiological investigations that shows up on x-ray.

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Contact: (0191) 256 3347 - Neuroradiology

IntroductionShow [+]Hide [-]

What is an Angiogram?

An angiogram is an x-ray test used to look at blood vessels. A cerebral angiogram specifically looks at the blood vessels in your head and neck.

              An image of the blood vessels in the head

An image of the blood vessels in the head




A patient being prepared for an angiogram


A patient being prepared for an angiogram

Before your procedureShow [+]Hide [-]

What happens before the test?

You may already be in hospital, if you are not you will be sent a date to come in for your test.  If any of the following are applicable, please ring the Neuroradiology Department as soon as possible on:

Telephone: (0191) 256 3347

  • You take Warfarin (a blood thinning tablet)
  • You are a diabetic, or take Metformin
  • You think you may be allergic to x-ray dye
  • There is a possibility you may be pregnant

You must not have anything to eat or drink from 3am on the day of your angiogram.

Continue to take any medication as normal, with a small sip of water and bring any medication/inhalers with you when you come into hospital.

Before your angiogram the doctor will come to explain the procedure and its associated risks to you. The doctor will then ask for your written consent to perform the procedure. Please ask the staff if you have any questions or concerns.

During your procedureShow [+]Hide [-]

What happens during the test?

You will be taken to the angiogram room and be asked to lie on the x-ray table.

The nurse will then clean a small area of your groin and cover you with a sterile towel. The radiologist will give you an injection of local anaesthetic into the groin to numb the area.

The radiologist will then put a small tube called a catheter into the blood vessel in your groin.  This is then passed through the blood vessels in your body until it reaches your neck (you will not feel the catheter inside you). 

A special dye called ‘contrast’ will be injected through the catheter into the blood vessels in your head.  Several images will be taken as the contrast is injected.  It is very important that you remain still in order that the best possible images can be obtained.

Further advice for general anaesthetic or sedation

During your angiogram sedation may be given to ensure you remain completely still throughout the procedure. Occasionally a general anaesthetic may be required. Anaesthetic drugs remain in the body for over 24 hours and may take several days for their effects to wear off. There are possible risks when carrying out certain activities after being given sedation or a general anaesthetic. To reduce the possibility of any problems, we suggest you follow these guidelines.

  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take sleeping tablets.
  • Take things easy the day after your angiogram and refrain from strenuous exercise.
  • Do not operate machinery or appliances, for example electric drills.
  • Do not lock yourself in the bathroom or make yourself inaccessible to the person looking after you.
  • Do not make any important decisions or sign any important documents.
  • Observe any special instructions which have been given to you by the angiography staff.

What happens when the test is finished?

When all the images have been taken the tube will be  removed from your groin and pressure will be applied to stop any bleeding. However you may get some bruising on the skin around the puncture site. This is harmless and will disappear within a couple of weeks.

You will then be transferred onto your bed and taken back to the ward.  You will be asked to lie flat for a period of time after the test, but you will be able to eat and drink as normal.

The whole procedure is likely to take about one hour and you will need to remain in hospital for a few hours afterwards.

After your procedureShow [+]Hide [-]

What happens when you leave hospital?

Driving: You must not drive for 24 hours following your procedure. You will need to arrange for someone to collect you from hospital as you will not be able to drive home.

Bleeding: If you experience any bleeding from your groin, press on the puncture site firmly and lie down. If bleeding continues for longer than 10 minutes, contact your GP urgently, whilst keeping firm pressure on your groin.

Pain: If you have pain /discomfort which is not relieved by your normal painkillers, please contact your GP.

Eating/Drinking: You may resume your normal diet, but avoid alcohol for the first 24 hours.

Bathing: Providing you are not experiencing any problems with your puncture site, you may bathe or shower as usual.

Exercise: Take things easy for the next 24 hours and refrain from strenuous exercise. For example do not lift children, vacuum carpets or carry heavy shopping.

Returning to work: Returning to work depends on your occupation. You will need to rest at home on the day following your investigation. However, if you have a heavy manual job, please seek advice from your doctor before returning to work.

How do I get my results?

The images will be examined by the radiologist once the test is finished.  A report will be sent to the specialist who referred you for this test.  Further details of how results are obtained will be given to you at the hospital.

If you have any questions concerning this test please ring the Neuroradiology Department:

Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5:00pm

Telephone:  (0191) 256 3347

If you have any problems after your angiogram, outside of normal working hours, please contact your GP, or your local Accident & Emergency Department. 

In an emergency you can contact the Senior Nurse in Charge for Neurosciences at the Newcastle General Hospital via the switchboard on:

Telephone: (0191) 233 6161

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