Are there any alternatives to invasive angiography?
This section refers to a conventional angiogram, in which a catheter is used to inject dye into the vessels. There are less invasive alternatives that do not require a catheter or an incision, such as CT angiography or Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA). These tests can also be used to take a close look at the cause of a stroke and decide treatment options in patients who cannot or chose not to undergo conventional angiography. The pictures produced by these tests, although detailed and accurate enough for most uses, are not quite as precise as the ones from a conventional angiogram.
Who might have a head or neck angiogram?
Angiography is the gold standard for detecting problems with the blood vessels of the head and neck because it produces pictures with a degree of detail not available from other tests.1 Because it requires entering the body (is invasive) and involves some risks, head angiography is usually done when a previous noninvasive test, such as a CT scan or MRI or ultrasound, has detected an abnormality and more information is needed.2
Carotid (neck) angiography is used to look for a blockage or narrowing of the carotid artery to decide if you would benefit from a procedure to prevent stroke, such as a carotid endarterectomy or carotid stenting.
Cerebral (head) angiography is often performed if you have had a TIA or a stroke and doctors want to determine if treatment is required, or to see if treatment has been effective at opening a blocked vessel.