Neurologic complications of cerebral angiography: prospective analysis of 2,899 procedures and review of the literature

Radiology. 2003 May;227(2):522-8. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2272012071. Epub 2003 Mar 13.


Purpose: To prospectively identify risk factors for neurologic complications related to cerebral angiography.

Materials and methods: A total of 2,899 consecutive cerebral digital subtraction angiograms obtained with nonionic contrast material were prospectively evaluated. Neurologic complications were categorized as transient (<24 hours), reversible (24 hours to 7 days), and permanent (>7 days). The neurologic complication rate was correlated with patient age, type of indication for catheter angiography, medical history, fluoroscopic time, number and size of catheters, type and number of vessels injected, operator experience, and the quartile in which the study was performed. The correlations were statistically analyzed with Fisher exact tests and a multiple logistic regression model.

Results: There were 39 (1.3%) neurologic complications in 2,899 procedures; 20 were transient (0.7%), five (0.2%) were reversible, and 14 (0.5%) were permanent. Neurologic complications were significantly more common in patients 55 years of age or older (25 of 1,361; 1.8%) (P =.035), in patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) (20 of 862; 2.3%) (P =.004), and when fluoroscopic times were 10 minutes or longer (24 of 1,238; 1.9%) (P =.022). The neurologic complication rate was higher in procedures performed by fellows alone (24 of 1,878; 1.3%) compared with that when staff alone performed the procedures (three of 598; 0.5%), but the difference was not significant (P =.172). Neurologic complications were lower in the fourth quartile of the study (six of 171; 0.9%) compared with the first quartile (16 of 776; 2.1%), which was likely due to fewer patients being examined for carotid stenosis or ischemic stroke and fewer patients with CVD (P =.085).

Conclusion: Age-related vascular disease accounted for the failure to lower the neurologic complication rate of cerebral angiography despite technical advances.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cerebral Angiography / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Prospective Studies