Computed tomographic angiography for the diagnosis of blunt cervical vascular injury: is it ready for primetime?

Alexander L Eastman, David P Chason, Carlos L Perez, Amy L McAnulty, Joseph P Minei
Journal of Trauma 2006, 60 (5): 925-9; discussion 929

INTRODUCTION: Although the reported sensitivity of computed tomographic angiography (CTA) for the diagnosis of blunt cervical vascular injury (BCVI) has been inadequate, we hypothesized that advances in computed tomographic technology have improved the diagnostic sensitivity of CTA at least to that of invasive catheter angiography (CA).

METHODS: Data from all patients at risk for BCVI presenting to a Level I trauma center were collected prospectively. Each patient was evaluated with CTA and these findings were confirmed with standard catheter arteriograms (CA).

RESULTS: Over 11 months, 162 patients were at risk for BCVI. In all, 146 patients received both CTA and CA. Forty-six BCVIs were identified among 43 patients. In 45 of 46 cases (98%), the results of CTA and CA were concordant. There was a single false-negative CTA in a patient with a grade I vertebral artery injury (VAI). The remaining 103 patients had normal CTAs confirmed by a normal CA. The overall sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy of CTA for the diagnosis of BCVI were 97.7%, 100%, 100%, 99.3%, and 99.3%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: CTA, using a 16-channel detector, can be used to accurately screen at-risk patients for BCVI.

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