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Exercises for the brain

Cerebral angiograms are powerful diagnostic tools used to visualize blood vessels in the brain. This minimally invasive procedure can identify blockages, aneurysms, or other abnormalities that may impact brain health. By injecting contrast dye into the bloodstream and capturing X-ray images, specialists gain valuable insights into blood flow patterns and potential issues.

Dr. Manish Taneja

Brain Aneurysm Specialist, Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic

Introduction to Cerebral Angiograms

Brain aneurysms are potentially fatal health conditions that can occur in people of all ages and backgrounds and demand immediate medical attention. Doctors have several options to diagnose aneurysms, one of which is a cerebral angiogram. Although there are MRIs or MRAs, cerebral angiogram is a minimally invasive procedure and an important tool to confirm brain aneurysms and other blood vessel abnormalities. This article will explain the thought process behind the use of cerebral angiograms, each step of the procedure, and why you can trust Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic to care for you during this process.

What is a Cerebral Angiogram?

A cerebral angiogram (also known as cerebral angiography) is an imaging test in which a physician inserts a catheter into a patient’s artery, guides it to the blood vessels in the brain, and uses iodine-based contrast dye with X-rays to create images of the concerning area. Not only do the pictures provided by the angiogram help doctors make more correct diagnoses regarding blood vessels in the brain, they also help to establish the exact location, size, and shape of the ailment.

This information is incredibly useful when planning your treatment options. Cerebral angiograms can serve as a guide for surgical interventions, endovascular procedures, and radiation therapy. In addition to brain aneurysms, they can also be used to diagnose Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), strokes, tumors, vascular abnormalities, vascular dissections, and blood clots. After certain interventions such as aneurysm coiling or AVM embolization, cerebral angiograms are sometimes performed to evaluate the success of the initial procedure and monitor progress over time.

Cebral Angiogram Procedure

In preparation for a cerebral angiogram, your doctor and healthcare provider will review your medical history and conduct a physical to ensure that the procedure will not put you in any excess danger. Tell your doctor if you:

  • Are pregnant or may be pregnant
  • Have a history of bleeding disorders or take blood thinners
  • Have previously had an allergic reaction to X-ray contrast dye or an iodine substance
  • Have had any recent illnesses or medical conditions
  • Have kidney function problems

You may also be asked to not eat or drink anything 4 to 8 hours before the test or to stop taking certain medications. Cerebral angiograms are typically done in a hospital or surgery center and take one to three hours to complete. Here are the main steps of the procedure:

  1. You will be asked to remove all jewelry and clothing before putting on a hospital gown to lie on the procedure table.
  2. A local anesthetic is applied on the incision point to numb the area before an intravenous (IV) line is inserted into your arm or hand to give you a sedative.
  3. Your surgeon makes a small incision in the skin and inserts a catheter through to the blood vessels in the groin area.
  4. After the catheter is in position, contrast dye is injected through the tube. You may feel some warmth as the dye makes its way through your body for a brief moment.
  5. Once the dye reaches the blood vessels doctors want to examine, they will take multiple X-rays. The dye visualizes the structure of your blood vessels, providing real-time monitoring of blood flow in the brain and highlighting any abnormalities that could lead to health problems. It’s important to stay still during this step.
  6. After pictures have been taken, the catheter is removed from your body. The medical team will apply pressure to the insertion site to stop blood from pooling in surrounding tissues.

From the visual illustrations, here we can see the catheter travels the path from the groin area (entrance of the femoral artery) to the head where the contrast dye is injected to visualize the structure of blood vessels. 

Interpreting the Results

A radiologist will analyze the images from your angiogram and send a signed report to your primary care or referring physician, who will then share the results with you. While you should leave the official interpretation to the professionals, here is a general guide for what radiologists and doctors look for in angiogram results.

  • Contrast dye that flows out of blood vessels may be a sign of bleeding.
  • Narrowed or blocked arteries could indicate cholesterol deposits (plaque), a brain artery spasm (vasospasm), blood clots causing a stroke, or inherited disorders.
  • Out-of-place blood vessels may be due to brain tumors, bleeding within your skull, an aneurysm, or an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins in the brain (arteriovenous malformation).
  • Abnormal results could also be due to cancer that has spread to the brain from another part of the body (metastatic brain tumor).

Treatment doesn’t stop immediately after the angiogram. Follow-up exams are also necessary to confirm good health. Your doctor may want to get more pictures of your blood vessels with X-rays or a special imaging technique. Patients should also monitor their status and contact their provider for any of these symptoms:

  • Redness, pain, swelling, or bleeding from the insertion site
  • Numbness, changes in color or temperature, pain, or loss of function in your limbs
  • Fever or chills
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in speech or vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pains

Brain Aneurysm Treatment Options

The treatment plan for brain aneurysms and other vascular lesions is personalized for each patient. No two people have the same symptoms and circumstances, and it is important to take the time to tailor treatment so that every detail is accounted for and the patient supports every decision. The size, location, and whether the aneurysm has ruptured or not are also important factors to consider.

For smaller, asymptomatic, unruptured aneurysms, the treatment plan can be taking blood pressure, pain control, or seizure prevention medication. For more serious concerns, doctors may turn to these options:

  • Flow diversion – This treatment option is for complex or wide-necked brain aneurysms. A stent-like device known as a flow diverter, is implanted across the aneurysm neck. Over time, the flow diverter redirects blood flow away from the aneurysm, shrinking it until it receives no circulation, reducing the risk of a rupture.
  • Endovascular coil embolization – A catheter is guided to the site of the aneurysm, where platinum coils are then inserted into the aneurysm sac to induce the formation of clots. Used mainly for smaller aneurysms, this treatment provides quicker recovery times and is less invasive than other options.
  • Microvascular clipping – In this traditional procedure, a surgeon removes and restores a portion of the skull placing a small clip on the neck of the aneurysm with a microscope during the process. This isolates it from the other blood vessels and prevents blood flow. While this treatment plan is more invasive than other methods, it is very effective, especially when coiling or flow diversion is not the right choice for certain patients.

World-Class Brain Aneurysm Care and Commitment in Singapore

If you are suffering from severe headaches, double vision, or pain above one eye, there is a chance you have a brain aneurysm. Cerebral angiograms are a vital resource to discover the source and extent of your issues. Any notion of medical interventions can be anxiety-inducing for many people, but Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is here to guide you through the process and give you the best treatment possible.

Our brain aneurysm specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja, is an expert in the field, having performed traditional and innovative brain aneurysm procedures to help patients raise their quality of life since 1995. If you have any questions about cerebral angiograms or would like to schedule an appointment, contact us today.

Brain Aneurysm Warnings Signs and Symptoms

Not all symptoms may be present simultaneously but look out for the most common ones. Call 9-9-5 immediately if you or a loved one is experiencing brain aneurysm symptoms. 

Brain Aneurysm Resources

Discover brain aneurysm resources that go beyond the basics designed for patients. Understand the meaning of  a brain aneurysm condition, the causes, symptoms, signs, and more. Connect with your brain health.

Put Brain Aneurysm on Your Health Radar

Did you experience the worst headache of your life? Could it be a brain aneurysm that ruptures, which means bleeding in the brain? Thoughts could be racing through your mind. Then what is the difference between unruptured (a weak or thin spot on an artery in the brain that balloons) or ruptured brain aneurysm? If you’re wondering, then the Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is here to help. It’s important to look out for the tell-tale brain aneurysm symptoms, signs, causes, and risk factors.

Dr. Manish Taneja has been performing brain aneurysm treatments since 1995 from surgical clipping to latest minimally invasive procedures. Each patient is unique as is the size and location of the aneurysm. Your brain has different conditions to treat the aneurysm and artery vessel walls of a blood vessel in the brain. This calls for personalised brain aneurysm treatment depending on your symptoms, family, history, medication, and more. A simple CT scan could be just what the doctor ordered and the first step in early detection and prevention of a brain aneurysm. Come in for an easy consultation with our brain aneurysm specialist to be on your health radar.

Other Health Conditions

The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is your “go-to” facility for various neurointerventional / stroke conditions and treatments. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our neurointervention specialist, contact us. You can also call us at (+65) 6904 8084 for a consultation.