Cerebral catheter angiography and its complications

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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.

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