Cerebral CT or MR Angiography

General Information | Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation | What to Expect


General information General Information

About Cerebral Angiography

CT angiography and MR angiography are particularly useful in imaging the blood vessels of the brain.

Cerebral angiography is an imaging exam that exams blood vessels in the brain. A scanner is used to take images which are assembled into three-dimensional views of the blood vessels using state-of-the-art computer software. These 3-D models help the radiologist more accurately view the structure of blood vessels in diseases such as aneurysms, intracranial or extracranial vessel stenosis, and stroke.

Catheter angiography has been used to examine blood vessels for years. With catheter angiography, a very thin, long tube is threaded through the groin arteries to the blood vessels that need examination. There are newer, non-invasive methods for performing angiography that utilize CT and MRI scanners. These newer methods are becoming more frequently used as an alternative for studying blood vessels. CT angiography uses an intravenous contrast agent to enhance the visibility of the blood vessels. MR angiography often uses intravenous contrast agent as well.

CT angiography and MR angiography are particularly useful in imaging the blood vessels of the brain. When a patient comes into the hospital with bleeding in the brain, these tests are often the first performed to identify the source of the problem and plan treatment. For most emergency cases, CT angiography is preferred over MR angiography since it takes less time to get the exam results. This is particularly helpful in the evaluation of acute stroke patients.

These exams are also very useful in non-emergency situations. They can be used to screen asymptomatic and/or at-risk individuals for conditions such as brain aneurysms and arterial stenosis or occlusion. By proactively identifying life threatening aneurysms, they can be repaired and prevent a potentially fatal event. These imaging studies can also be used to help direct appropriate treatment and as a follow up in patients with stenosis or occlusion.

Risks Involved in Cerebral Angiography

Following are some of the risks associated with CT and MR angiography:

MR Angiography

  • Risk of allergic reaction to the contrast material if used during the procedure.
  • Claustrophobic patients may be uncomfortable.
  • Undetected metal implants can be affected by the magnetic field or they can interfere with the readability of the images.

CT Angiography

  • Risk of radiation exposure; however, it is well below the level that generally causes adverse affects.
  • Risk of allergic reaction to the contrast material used during the procedure.

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Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation

Procedure Locations

Consultations for cerebral angiography are done at RIA Neurovascular.

Cerebral angiography is performed at the following Invision Sally Jobe locations in the Denver, Colorado area:

CT angiography and/or MR angiography are also performed at the following Radiology Imaging Associates partner hospitals in the Denver, Colorado area:

  • Exempla Lutheran Hospital
  • Medical Center of Aurora
  • Porter Adventist Hospital (low radiation option available for CT angiography)
  • Sky Ridge Medical Center
  • Swedish Medical Center
Call 720-493-3345 to schedule a consultation.

Scheduling a Consultation

To schedule a consultation to discuss cerebral angiography, call 720-493-3345.

Insurance Coverage

Voluntary CT angiography or MR angiography may be covered by insurance when ordered by a physician. Check with your insurance company to be sure. If you are having the exam voluntarily, please bring your insurance card with you to your consultation and exam.

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Conditions to Let Us Know About

In advance of your exam, let your radiologist or technologist know if any of the following circumstances apply to you:

For MR Angiography

  • Currently pregnant or nursing
  • Dental fillings or braces
  • Currently have a metal plate, pins, screws, or staples in the skull
  • Previous reaction to MRI contrast medium (gadolinium)
  • Claustrophobia
  • Any magnetic, mechanical or electronic devices
  • brain aneurysm surgery or ear implants

For CT Angiography

  • Currently pregnant or nursing
  • Previous reaction to iodine or contrast material
  • Renal disease
  • Asthma with inhaler use 2 times or more per day
  • Diabetic

Preparation Guidelines

Following are the general preparation guidelines for CT and MR angiography. You may receive additional or differing guidelines based on your specific situation. Please contact the hospital where the procedure will be performed if you have any questions.

  • No solid food for 4 hours prior to the exam.
  • Remove all jewelry, hair accessories, dentures and other metal objects.
  • If receiving sedation, arrange for a ride to and from the exam.

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What to Expect What to Expect

Before the Exam

Before your voluntary CT or MR angiography, you will fill out paperwork and consent forms so the radiologist will know your medical history.

During the Procedure

A patient receives a CT angiography.

Here is generally what will happen during cerebral MR or CT angiography:

MR Angiography

  1. A technologist will ask you some safety questions and answer your questions.
  2. You will remove all metal and metallic objects, such as eyeglasses, belts, hair accessories and jewelry. You will also change into a gown. You may use a secure locker for your personal items during your exam.
  3. If you need contrast or sedation, a small IV will be placed in your hand.
  4. You will go to the exam room. The technologist will help position you on the MRI table.
  5. During the scan, which lasts less than ten minutes, the MRI machine will make buzzing and banging sounds. You will be provided with earplugs or headphones to protect your hearing. It is extremely important not to move any part of your body during the MRI scan to avoid blurring the images.
  6. Contrast will be administered during the scan if needed. You may feel a warm sensation as it enters your body.
  7. If an IV was placed in your hand, it will be removed after the exam is completed.
  8. You will change back into your clothes.

The technologist will not stay in the room during the scan, but you can speak with him or her throughout the exam by intercom.

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CT Angiography

  1. A technologist will ask you some safety questions and answer your questions.
  2. You will remove all metal and metallic objects, such as eyeglasses, belts, hair accessories and jewelry. You will also change into a gown. You may use a secure locker for your personal items during your exam.
  3. A small IV will be placed in your hand.
  4. You will go to the exam room. The technologist will help position you on the CT scanner table.
  5. During the scan, which lasts less than ten minutes, you will hear normal whirring and mechanical noises as the CT scanner rotates around your body. It is extremely important not to move any part of your body during the MRI scan to avoid blurring the images.
  6. After a test image is taken, a small amount of contrast material will be administered to see how long it takes to reach the brain. The IV is then hooked up to an automatic injector and more contrast is given. You may feel a warm sensation when the contrast enters your body or experience a metallic taste. The scanner will rapidly take all the images and the automatic injector will give more contrast if and when it’s needed.
  7. The IV will be removed after the exam is completed.
  8. You will change back into your clothes.

The technologist will not stay in the room during the scan, but you can speak with him or her throughout the exam by intercom.

After the Procedure

Recovery

You can return to your normal activities immediately after the exam. You should drink extra fluids for a day to more quickly clear the contrast material from your body.

Exam Results

For voluntary exams, a board-certified radiologist experienced in the interpretation of CT angiography or MR angiography will analyze the data and results from your exam. The results will be reported to your physician. Your physician will pass the results onto you.

During the exam, our radiologists and technologists will be happy to answer questions about the exam itself; however, they will not immediately provide you with the results of your exam.

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