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Carotid angiography

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​Carotid angiography is a type of X-ray test used to view the carotid arteries.

Your Marshfield Clinic Heart Specialist may recommend the test to determine if and how much your carotid arteries are blocked.

A severely blocked carotid artery increases your risk for stroke or other problems.

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.

How do I get ready for a carotid angiography?

  • Tell your doctor about any allergies you may have,  including any to contrast dye.

  • Be sure your doctor knows about all medicines you take. You may be told to stop taking some or all of them before the test. Tell your doctor about:

    • All prescription medications

    • Over-the-counter medicines that don't need a prescription

    • Any street drugs you may use 

    • Herbs, vitamins, kelp, seaweed, cough syrups, and other supplements

  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or think you could be, 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 medicines, swallow them with only small sips of water.

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

What happens during carotid angiography?

  • An IV (intravenous) line is started 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.

What happens after carotid angiography?

  • You’ll be taken to a recovery area.

  • A 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.

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 should I call my health care provider?

Call your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Fever (1˚F above your normal temperature) lasting for 24 to 48 hours

  • 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

  • Or, whatever your health care provider told you to report based on your medical condition.

 Carotid Artery Disease

What Do You Know About Preventing Heart Disease?

You can take steps to reduce your risk for heart disease. Find out more about preventing heart disease by taking this quiz.

1. Which of these is a cause of heart disease?
2. What can happen if blood flow in an artery is blocked or greatly restricted?
3. Three risk factors for heart disease can't be controlled. Which of these are they?
4. What is considered "high blood pressure"?
5. Why can smoking lead to heart disease?
6. How much exercise is recommended to help prevent heart disease?
7. Your risk for heart disease rises if your body mass index (BMI) is more than 24.9. Why?
8. Drinking a moderate amount of alcohol is considered safe for your heart. What can happen if you drink more?
9. Which of these is a classic symptom of a heart attack?