PROCEDURE OF THE DAY
Cerebral angiography is a form of angiography that visualizes the arterial and venous supply of the brain. This medical imaging technique was pioneered by Dr. Egas Moniz in 1927, and is now the gold standard for detecting vascular problems of the brain.
Any form of angiography involves the passing of a catheter into a large artery (e.g. the femoral artery) and advancing this catheter through the carotid artery. When this has been achieved, a contrast agent that is relatively impervious to the passage of x-ray photons is injected, and a rapid series of radiographs is taken while this radiopaque fluid passes through the vasculature. Another series, taken when the contrast agent has passed through the tissues, visualizes the venous supply. Using modern equipment, this method offers better visual representation of cerebral blood vessels than less invasive methods such as computed tomography angiography and magnetic resonance angiography.
Most vascular abnormalities of the brain, e.g. arteriovenous malformations and aneurysms, can be detected on cerebral angiography.
In some countries, cerebral angiography is required to confirm brain death.
One of the advantages of angiography over alternative techniques (e.g. magnetic resonance angiography/MRA) is the possibility of performing interventions. Aneurysms, in particular, may be amenable to the angiographic insertion of metal coils, which lead to connective tissue formation and the obliteration of the aneurysm.