Cerebral Angiogram - Outpatient
This handout will help to prepare you for a cerebral angiogram. It is scheduled to be done in the
Radiology Department at UW by our Neuroendovascular and Neuro Interventional Radiology
_________________________________________________. Before the angiogram, our doctors
will review the information in this handout with you and ask your consent to do the test.
What Is It?
A cerebral angiogram is a test to look at the blood vessels in your brain. It is a test in which we
take a series of x-ray pictures (fluoroscopy) with the use of x-ray dye (contrast). The contrast
allows the doctor to see the blood vessels (arteries) in your neck and head on TV screens in real
time. The test often lasts 1-2 hours.
Why Do You Need an Angiogram?
This test is used to check the blood flow through an artery. Your doctor may want you to have
this test to check blood flow before surgery or to look for an area of blockage.
What is needed before the Angiogram?
You will need a pre-procedure history and physical plus the following labs drawn within 30 days
of your angiogram: CBC (including platelet count), PTT, INR, electrolytes, BUN, creatinine,
and glucose. The preprocedure history and physical can be done through your regular primary
care provider or at UW with one of our neuroendovascular providers. All paperwork and lab
results need to be faxed to our office at (608) 265-8637 Attn: NES clinical team at least 2 days
before the angiogram. If we do not have the necessary information and test results, we may need
to reschedule your test.
What Should I Do to Get Ready?
Certain medicines can affect your body’s ability to clot. Please be sure your doctor is aware of
the medicines you are taking before your angiogram is scheduled. The only medicine that affects
clotting that must be stopped before the angiogram is Coumadin (warfarin). Do not stop taking
Coumadin® without first talking with your doctor. You do NOT need to stop either aspirin or
Tell us about your allergies. Let us know if you are allergic to x-ray dyes, IV contrast, iodine,
antibiotics, anesthetic agents, latex, or any other medicines that you may have taken before.
Let us know if you have sleep apnea or use a machine at night when you sleep. This is important
to know so we can safely use medicines that make you sleepy during the procedure.
We also need to know if you have had any procedures or tests in the month before your
Make plans to have someone drive you home after the test and review discharge instructions
before we send you home after your angiogram. You can not drive for 24 hours after the test.
Plan to have someone stay with you that night, just in case any problems occur and you need care
Before the Test
You will receive a phone call from one of the radiology nurses with a specific time to arrive for
your angiogram as well as with instructions related to any medications you are taking, and when
to stop eating and drinking.
Day of the Test
The morning of the test, do not eat solid foods or milk for 6 hours before the exam. Do not drink
clear liquids (anything you can see through) less than 2 hours before the exam. On the morning
of the test, you may take your oral medicines with small sips of water unless your doctor or nurse
has told you otherwise.
If you have diabetes and take insulin, one of the nurses will call you with specific medication
instructions. If you take a medicine called Glucophage (metformin) you should not take it the
morning of the angiogram. You will not take this medication for 48 hours after the angiogram.
Please tell your doctor if you are taking any oral diabetes medicines.
Check in at the Radiology clinic desk on the 3rd floor in the atrium lobby area.
A nurse will take you to the Radiology prep area. You will be asked to change into a hospital
gown and remove all undergarments. A nurse will listen to your heart and lungs and make sure
you are in good shape to have the test. An IV will be started in your arm to provide fluids. A
small tube may be placed into your bladder to drain urine since you will not be able to get up to
go to the bathroom during or after the test. We may need extra blood or urine tests before your
angiogram and will get them at that time.
A doctor (a neuroradiologist) will go over details of the angiogram with you and answer any
questions you might have. This doctor will also obtain your consent in writing for us to proceed
with the angiogram.
When it is time for your angiogram, you will be taken to a special room (the angio suite). You
will lie flat on a table that moves. The nurse will connect monitors to watch your heart rate,
breathing, and blood pressure. You will be given medicine to make you sleepy. Once you are
ready, the groin area just above your leg (near the hip bone and inner thigh) will be shaved and
then cleansed with a liquid that may feel very cold. You will be covered by sterile sheets and an
anesthetic will be used to numb that site before the small tube (catheter) is placed into the artery.
During the Test
During the test, you will need to lie very still to get the best results. As the catheter is guided
through your blood vessels, the path will be checked by x-rays. Once the catheter is in place,
there will be several injections of x-ray dye. You may have a warm feeling on the side of your
neck and face, lasting 30-60 seconds. This is normal. The clicking noise you hear from the x-ray
machines is normal. You may also notice the lights in the room turning on and off. The doctors
and staff may step out of the room for a short time while the x-rays are being taken. At any time
during the test, if you feel uncomfortable or short of breath, tell your doctor.
After the Test
Once the angiogram is done, the catheter will be removed and firm pressure placed on the area
for about 15-30 minutes to prevent bleeding. Sometimes we are able to use a closure device (like
putting a stitch in your artery). This can shorten your recovery time. You will then be taken to a
room in Radiology where you will stay for the next 2-6 hours for your recovery. During that
time, you will need to keep your leg straight. You may roll side to side with help from your
nurse. A nurse will check your blood pressure, pulse, and the catheter site. You will also be
asked to drink plenty of fluids to help flush the dye from your system. After this time, you will
be helped to get up and walk. If you feel okay, you will then go home. Keep in mind, you must
have a responsible adult to review the discharge instructions and drive you home. You
should not drive or make important decisions until the next day.
Drnk 10-20 glasses of fluid for the first 24 hours. Do not drink any alcohol during this time.
You may remove the bandage over the groin the next day and gently wash the area with a mild
soap and water. Do not rub this area to dry the skin. You should only ‘blot’ the area with a
If bleeding occurs at the puncture site, apply direct pressure and go to the nearest
Activities for the Next Week
ξ You will be allowed to shower the day after the angiogram, but do not soak in a bath tub
or hot tub.
ξ You should not do any heavy lifting (over 10 pounds).
ξ No vigorous activity.
ξ No swimming.
ξ You may remove the bandage over the groin the next day and gently wash the area with a
mild soap and water. Do not rub this area to dry the skin. You should only ‘blot’ the area
with a towel.
Be sure to let us know if you will need a letter for work or school to excuse you from these
What to Expect After the Angiogram
ξ The puncture site might be tender or sore. This often goes away after a few days, but it
can last up to one week.
ξ You may notice some bruising in your groin. This goes away after 2-3 weeks.
ξ Some patients feel a small hard bump about the size of a peanut at the groin site. This is
normal and generally goes away after several months.
When to Call the Doctor
ξ If puncture site becomes red and/or hot.
ξ If any yellow or green drainage comes from site.
ξ If swelling occurs at the site.
ξ If your temperature goes above 100 θF.
ξ If you have severe pain or spasm in the leg.
ξ If numbness or tingling occurs in foot or leg.
ξ If itching, hives, or rash appear.
If you have any additional questions and/or concerns either before or after your angiogram, after
reading this handout, call neuroendovascular clinical team at (608) 263-4730 option 2 between
8:00am and 5:00pm Monday through Friday, during normal business hours.
After hours, nights, weekends, and holidays call (608) 262-0486. This will give you the
paging operator. Ask for the neuroradiology doctor on call. Give the operator your name and
phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, please call, 1-800-323-8942.
On occasion, outpatient diagnostic procedures (i.e.: your angiogram) may need to be rescheduled
with little to no notice due to unforeseen emergencies. We will do everything possible to keep
your appointment on the day it was scheduled.
Your Angiogram is on .
Your follow up appointment in the surgery clinic with Dr.
is scheduled for at .
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©6/2016. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5008.