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Cerebral catheter angiography and its complications
  1. Vafa Alakbarzade1,2,
  2. Anthony C Pereira1
  1. 1Department of Neurology, Atkinson Morley Wing, St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Tooting, UK
  2. 2Department of Neurology, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Plymouth, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Vafa Alakbarzade, Department of Neurology, Atkinson Morley Wing, St George’s Hospital, Tooting, London SW17 0QT, UK; vafa.alakbarzade.10{at}


Catheter-based angiography is an important but invasive procedure in vascular neurology. It is used mainly for diagnosis and for planning treatment in patients with a suspected underlying vascular abnormality. It is often performed as a semiurgent, planned investigation or linked to an interventional procedure. Cerebral angiography provides high-resolution, three-dimensional, pathoanatomical data about the cerebral vasculature and also allows real-time analysis of blood flow. Contrast injections can be repeated to identify subtleties. A physical intervention may also follow angiography. For these reasons, angiography remains the gold standard for delineating vascular lesions of the brain (and spine). Permanent neurological complications are rare, approximately 1%, but become increasingly common in patients aged over 55 years. The main complications are embolic stroke, groin haematoma and contrast-induced nephropathy. In the new era of thrombectomy, it may transpire that other specialists including neurologists may learn to perform the procedure and to manage its complications.

  • cerebral angiography
  • digital subtraction angiography
  • catheter-based angiography
  • angiography complications
  • patient information

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  • Contributors VA wrote the manuscript and ACP reviewed, edited and approved the final version of the manuscript. WA contributed to imaging.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned. Externally peer reviewed by William Whiteley, Edinburgh, UK.

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  • Editors’ commentary
    Philip E M Smith Geraint N Fuller

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