Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our five kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Saturday, May 05, 2007

So what are all these tests?

Here's an explanation of the tests Angela will be having next week:

Full-spine MRI: Lots of people have had MRI's done. A full-spine MRI takes a couple of hours, and sometimes involves having dye injected. Angela had a brain MRI done a couple weeks ago and without any sedation layed perfecty still for an hour and 20 minutes! This time we're doing late in the evening and she'll have her meds so she should sleep through the entire procedure. Here's a description of it if you're interested.

SPECT: Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) studies use radioactive materials to get information about blood flow and activity in the brain.

Radioactive materials are inhaled or injected and then move through the blood to the brain, where the different regions of the brain can be studied for abnormal functioning.

Angiogram of the Head and Neck:
Angiogram of the head and neck is an X-ray test that uses fluoroscopy to take pictures of the blood flow within the blood vessels of the head and neck. A thin flexible tube called a catheter is placed into the femoral blood vessel (femoral artery) in the groin or just above the elbow (brachial artery) and guided to the head and neck area. Then a dye (contrast material) that contains iodine is injected into the vessel being studied to make it more visible on the X-ray pictures.

An angiogram of the neck (carotid angiogram) can be used to evaluate the large arteries in the neck that lead to the brain. An angiogram of the head (cerebral angiogram) can be used to evaluate veins or the four arteries (four-vessel study) supplying blood to the brain. An angiogram can detect a bulge in the wall of a blood vessel (aneurysm). It can also detect narrowing of a blood vessel or a blockage in a blood vessel that slows or prevents blood flow, an abnormal collection of vessels (arteriovenous malformation), or abnormal vessels supplying a tumor. The angiogram pictures can be produced on regular X-ray films or stored as digital images in a computer.

See an illustration of the blood supply to the brain.

Why It Is Done

An angiogram of the head or neck is done to:

  • Detect blockage or narrowing of the arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain (carotid angiogram). Blood flow to the brain that is slowed or stopped increases the risk of having a stroke or a "mini-stroke" (called a transient ischemic attack, or TIA). See an illustration of an angiogram of a TIA.
  • Evaluate symptoms that might indicate problems with the arteries that supply the brain. Symptoms may include severe headaches, memory loss, slurred speech, dizziness, blurred or double vision, weakness or numbness, and loss of coordination or balance.
  • Detect an aneurysm in the brain or in a blood vessel leading to the brain. See an illustration of an angiogram showing blood flow in the brain.
  • Investigate the pattern of blood flow to a tumor. This can help determine the extent of the tumor and guide treatment.


1 comment:

Lori (Downsyn) said...

Leah this is all so scary!!! You know we are all here for you and keeping EVERYTHING crossed for Angela. Stay strong and give that girl some hugs from her downsyn family.