CT Angiogram of the Neck

CT angiogram of the neck is done to look at the arteries that go the the brain. These are the carotid and vertebral arteries.  You can also see the main veins in the neck called the jugular veins.  They are not well evaluated because of the technique that focuses on arteries.

What does a CT angiogram of the neck show?

CT angiogram of the neck also shows us a part of the lower brain.    We see the neck soft tissues, the cervical spine, the upper mediastinum, and upper lungs.  Sometimes we see incidental findings on a CT neck angiogram in these structures.   Incidental findings are those which are important but not the cause of the patients problem.

Why is this test done?

A CT angiogram of the neck is often ordered when there is concern for abnormality of the carotid and vertebral arteries.  Symptoms may include neck pain, dizziness, and other neurologic symptoms.   A CT angiogram of the neck is often done with an angiogram of the head.

What are some abnormalities we see?

A CT angiogram of the neck can show a dissection of the arteries.  This means there is a tear in the artery and blood starts to flow along the wall.  This can cause the artery to get blocked.  Blood clots can form.  These blood clots can then cause a stroke.

A CT angiogram of the neck can also show narrowing of the artery from hardening of the arteries or atherosclerotic disease.  This is common where the carotid arteries split, called the bifurcation.  The narrowing is caused by plaques, some of which are calcified.

We can sometimes identify abnormalities involving the neck.  Nodules in the thyroid gland are commonly identified.  We can sometimes see nodules in the upper lungs.  I have seen enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and even a fracture of the cervical spine.  There are many other potential findings since the study covers multiple areas of anatomy.

CT angiogram of the neck shows us part of the brain

CT angiogram of the neck can also show us abnormalities of the brain.  This is because the study is often ordered with an angiogram of the head.  When it is not, it still covers the lower brain and the vessels at the circle of Willis.  These are the arteries which feed the various parts of the brain.

We can sometimes identify aneurysms, blockages, and hardening of the arteries.  Brain abnormalities can also be identified.  These can include masses, strokes, bleeds in addition to others.  We can also see abnormalities of the skull and scalp.


A CT angiogram of the neck is a study that looks at the carotid and vertebral arteries which feed the brain.  It gives us a detailed look at the arteries.  We can also see many other surrounding structures which may also be abnormal.  The radiologist who reads the study will look at all the anatomy to make sure there are no incidental findings.


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