• Vol. 38 No. 9, 769–773
  • 15 September 2009

Multi-detector Computer Tomography Angiography in the Initial Assessment of Patients Acutely Suspected of Having Intracranial Aneurysm Rupture

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ABSTRACT

Introduction: Multi-detector computer tomography angiography (CTA) provides a fast non-invasive assessment of the cerebral vessels, is readily available in an acute setting and can potentially replace invasive digital subtraction angiography (DSA) for the diagnosis of intracranial vascular lesions in an emergency setting. We report our experience in the use of emergent cerebral CTA versus DSA in the assessment of patients presenting acutely with symptoms suspicious of brain aneurysm rupture. Materials and Methods: Thirty-seven consecutive patients presenting acutely with clinical suspicion of brain aneurysm rupture were evaluated over a 4-month period from January to April 2008. CTA with peripheral intravenous contrast injection was performed on a 32 slice helical scanner. DSA was performed within 48 hours for all cases when CTA was the initial assessment. Studies were assessed via radiology reports using DSA or surgery as the gold standard. Results: All except for 3 patients had CTA as the initial study. There were 26 cerebral aneurysms detected by CTA in these 37 patients, with 9 negative studies. There were 2 patients with arteriovenous malformations (AVM), 1 with AV fistula (AVF), 1 tumoral bleed, 2 vertebral dissections, and 1 missed sagittal sinus thrombosis (CVT) on CTA. Based solely on CTA assessment, 3 patients had direct surgical clipping of the aneurysm, while 4 proceeded to direct endovascular coiling. Conclusion: Emergent CTA is a non-invasive, reliable and viable alternative to emergent DSA for the assessment of the cerebral vessels in the acute assessment of patients presenting with symptoms suspicious of brain aneurysm rupture. Where positive, it can serve as a guide to therapeutic decisions. Review of CTA source data is essential, especially for small lesions and for post-clipping assessment.


Digital subtraction angiography (DSA) has historically been considered the standard of reference in the diagnostic evaluation of patients acutely suspected of having intracranial aneurysm rupture.1 However, DSA is an invasive, resource intensive and costly procedure, which may not be readily available on a 24-hour basis. It is also associated with a small but definite risk of complications such as stroke.2-4 On the other hand, multi-detector computer tomography angiography (CTA) provides a fast non-invasive assessment of the cerebral vessels, is readily available in an acute setting and can be easily performed immediately after the initial diagnostic computed tomography (CT) scan. CTA allows for rapid diagnosis and treatment planning and can potentially replace invasive DSA in an emergency.5-12 We report our experience in the use of emergent cerebral CTA versus DSA in the assessment of patients presenting acutely with symptoms suspicious of brain aneurysm rupture.

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