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Computerized tomography angiography in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage: from aneurysm detection to treatment without conventional angiography.

OBJECT: The purpose of this study was to determine prospectively whether and to what extent computerized tomography (CT) angiography can serve as the sole imaging method for a preoperative workup in patients with ruptured intracranial aneurysms.

METHODS: During a 1-year period, all patients who presented to the authors' hospital with subarachnoid hemorrhage demonstrated by unenhanced CT scanning or lumbar puncture underwent CT angiography. Two radiologists evaluated the CT angiography source images and maximum intensity projection slabs and arrived at a consensus. They categorized the quality of the CT angiography as adequate or inadequate and classified aneurysms that were detected as definitely or possibly present. The parent artery of anterior communicating artery aneurysms was identified by asymmetrical anterior cerebral artery size and asymmetrical aneurysm location. The parent artery was indicated by the larger A1 segment in cases of asymmetrical A1 size. Only CT angiograms of adequate quality that revealed aneurysms classified as definitely present and with an unequivocal parent artery were presented to the neurosurgeons, who decided whether preoperative digital subtraction (DS) angiography should still be performed. Forty-nine of the 100 studied patients did not undergo surgery because of poor clinical condition, nonaneurysmal cause of the hemorrhage, or endovascular treatment of the ruptured aneurysm. Of the 51 patients who underwent surgery, radiologists required DS angiography in 17 patients; the imaging technique provided greater certainty in 13 instances. The neurosurgeons required DS angiography 11 times; this provided additional information in two instances. Twenty-three (45%) of the 51 patients were surgically treated successfully on the basis of CT angiography findings alone.

CONCLUSIONS: Computerized tomography angiography can replace DS angiography as the preoperative neuroimaging technique in a substantial proportion of patients with ruptured intracranial aneurysms.

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