In This Section      
Print This Page

Carotid Arteriogram

Carotid Arteriogram

What is a carotid arteriogram?

A carotid arteriogram is a special type of x-ray picture to see the blood vessels in your neck that carry blood to the brain.

Why is it necessary?

A carotid arteriogram is usually performed in patients who have had a stroke or who have symptoms such as numbness or weakness on one side of the body. Once doctors know where the blockage is, they can suggest the best treatment.

How is it done?

A carotid arteriogram is performed by a radiologist, who is assisted by highly trained nurses and technologists. Using a needle, the radiologist will insert a thin wire into a large artery in the groin area. This wire is used to guide a small tube called a catheter into the large artery leading to your brain. Once the tube is in place, the X-ray dye is injected through the tube and X-rays are taken.

What should you expect?

Before the procedure:

  • You must not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure except for your normal medications.  Your doctor or nurse will tell you if you should stop taking any of your medications prior to the procedure. 
  • You need to bring a list of all your medications with you to the hospital. 
  • Please tell the doctor if you think you may be pregnant.
  • A nurse will place an IV in your hand or arm so that you can receive fluids and medications. 
  • Your doctor will answer your questions and ask you to sign a consent form. 

During the procedure:

  • You will lie on an x-ray table with machines all around you. You will have a blood pressure cuff on your arm, a clip on your finger to make sure you are getting enough oxygen, and wires on your legs and arms to check your heart rate.
  • The nurse will give you pain medication and a sedative, which will help you relax, before the procedure. The nurse will give you more medication if needed. You will feel relaxed, but you will be awake so that you can follow instructions.
  • The area where the doctor will be working will be cleaned and shaved. You will be covered with sterile drapes from your shoulders to your feet.
  • The radiologist will numb the groin where the catheter will be placed then guide the tube in and inject the dye. The dye may cause a burning feeling in your legs, but it will pass in 20 to 30 seconds. It is important to hold still during this time. You will not feel the tube move inside your artery.
  • The technologist will tell you to hold your breath and stay still during the pictures (about 10 seconds for each picture). The computerized X-ray used in this procedure is very sensitive to motion. The X-ray machine will move above you and come close to you at times, but it will not touch you. Pictures are taken at many different angles.

After the procedure:

  • You will be taken, with the catheter still in place, to a recovery area in the Cardiovascular Center once the procedure is done. The radiologist or nurse will remove the catheter and hold the site for 15 to 20 minutes to prevent bleeding. If the catheter was in your groin, you will need to lie flat without raising your head or moving your leg about four hours.
  • Your nurse will help you with eating, drinking, and personal care during this time.
  • Your nurse will check your blood pressure, heart rate, pupils, reflexes, and groin site frequently.
  • You may eat one hour after the procedure if you have had no problem drinking fluids.  You will receive IV fluids to flush out the dye.
  • If you are an outpatient, you may leave with a companion after a 5 hour recovery period.  You will need someone to drive you home.
  • Your total length of stay in the Cardiovascular Center will be about eight(8) hours.

After you go home:

  • You may not drive for 24 hours.
  • You should avoid strenuous activity or heavy lifting for one week.

Request an Appointment

Maryland Patients



Traveling for Care?

Whether you're crossing the country or the globe, we make it easy to access world-class care at Johns Hopkins.

Outside of Maryland (toll free)

Request an Appointment
Medical Concierge Services

International Patients

Request an Appointment
Medical Concierge Services

blue suitcase